Woman discharged in £16.2m MOD corruption and bribes investigation

TWO officials from the Ministry of Defence in Northern Ireland were among four defendants who admitted guilt in a £16.2m bribery and corruption case.

William Marks, 55, from Richmond Avenue in Lisburn, was the deputy senior commercial officer for the MoD in Northern Ireland when he took bungs totalling £66,500 from the owner of a security company, James McGeown.

Mr McGeown, 73, pleaded guilty earlier this month to obtaining contracts worth £16.2m to supply CCTV services to the MoD through the payment of bribes to Mr Marks and to John Symington, a senior quantity surveyor for the ministry.

Mr Marks pleaded guilty to 11 counts of corruption and to three counts of money-laundering, while Mr Symington, 56, pleaded guilty to four counts of corruption after receiving £18,000 from Mr McGeown, who owned VIS Security Solutions.

A fourth defendant, Carol Kealey, 53, the sister of Mr Marks, pleaded guilty last Tuesday to obstructing a police investigation after she admitted using a bank account in her name to process her brother’s funds.

Kealey, from The Crescent in Coleraine, admitted obstructing police between January 1998 and January 2004.

She had originally been charged with laundering the cash by converting or transferring the funds but those charges were “left on the books”.

She was given a conditional discharge while the other three defendants will be sentenced next month.

The pleas bring an end to a 10-year probe brought by the MoD police and the Serious Fraud Office, which investigated how contracts to supply closed-circuit television were tendered.

The frauds relate to Ministry of Defence contracts for electrical and security equipment and supply and installation of CCTV systems services amounting to around £25m.

The investigation, launched in 2002 by the Ministry of Defense police, was referred to the Serious Fraud Office in September 2004 due to the case’s complexity.

The investigation lasted another six years, and involved 7.5 tons of evidence, according to an SFO statement. Charges were filed in February 2010.

“This has been a complex investigation involving a huge amount of evidence,” said SFO Director Richard Alderman in the statement.

“I welcome the verdict which sends a clear message to people who divert public money to their own ends that they must face the consequences.”

The MoD declined to comment.