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UK publisher cooperates with SFO over Sudan payments
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May 6, 2010 - 7:24:41 AM

UK publisher cooperates with SFO over Sudan payments

2:40pm BST

LONDON (Reuters) - British publisher Macmillan said on Thursday it was working with the Serious Fraud Office on an investigation into bribes paid by one of its subsidiaries to secure a deal in south Sudan.

The World Bank said on Wednesday it had banned the publisher from taking up its contracts for six years after the company admitted it had made "corrupt payments" in an unsuccessful bid for an education project funded by the bank.

"We will not tolerate any form of potentially unlawful behaviour," Macmillan Chief Executive Annette Thomas said in a statement. "We are deeply shocked to have discovered these issues, and are sorry for the harm that such behaviour will have done."

"There is no suggestion that these concerns have affected any of Macmillan's other principal businesses, and it is the case that they are confined to a limited part of our education business."

The company said it had conducted a review of Macmillan Education's practices and changes were being implemented.

International donors have pumped millions of dollars into development projects in a war-ravaged south Sudan through a Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) managed by the World Bank.

A spokeswoman for the SFO confirmed Macmillan, which publishes a wide range of books, had reported the matter and was cooperating fully with enquiries.

"This is a matter that has been under investigation for some time and the investigation is being led by the SFO working in collaboration with the City of London police," she added.

Last year bridge manufacturer Mabey & Johnson became the first firm to be prosecuted in Britain for overseas corruption, and was ordered to pay 6.6 million pounds in fines and penalties.

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