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Four Charged in U.K. for Bribing Nigeria Officials Over Tax

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Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Four former Swift Technical Energy Solutions Ltd. employees were charged with conspiring to bribe Nigerian officials to lower the taxes their workers paid in the country.

Three men and one woman, all British nationals, were charged this morning at a London criminal court following a two-year probe of the company, which is a Nigerian subsidiary of the Swift Group companies, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office said in an e-mailed statement today.

The defendants -- a former chief financial officer, tax manager, financial controller and area director for Nigeria -- allegedly paid a total of 180,000 pounds ($292,000) in bribes in 2008 and 2009 to agents of the Rivers State Board of Internal Revenue and the Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue, according to prosecutors.

The bribes were paid to avoid, reduce or delay paying taxes on behalf of the oil- and gas-industry workers whom Swift sent to Nigeria, the SFO said. The case was transferred to a higher criminal court for a hearing on Feb. 22 and the defendants were released on bail.

“The company itself is not under investigation and has fully supported the inquiry,” Swift spokesman Andrew Honnor said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lindsay Fortado in London at lfortado@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net