Former PWS Chief Pleads Guilty to U.K. Charges in Costa Rican Bribe Case

Julian Messent, the former chief executive officer of PWS International Ltd, pleaded guilty to paying more than $2 million in bribes to win contracts in Costa Rica.

Messent admitted to two counts of corruption for funneling money to at least three Costa Rican officials to retain reinsurance contracts from a state-owned telecommunications and electricity company.

“These were very large government contracts with high premiums and large amounts of money being funneled back,” Hodge Malek, a lawyer for the Serious Fraud Office, which prosecuted the case, told a London court today.

PWS, a London-based reinsurance company founded by Lord Malcolm Pearson, was bought by THB Group in 2008. Pearson, a member of the House of Lords and the former head of the U.K. Independence Party, founded PWS in 1964.

Messent is scheduled to be sentenced later today.

Costa Rican prosecutors are investigating 10 people for accepting bribes in the case, SFO spokeswoman Katie Winstanley said.

To contact the reporter for this story: Lindsay Fortado in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at

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