SFO wins approval for landmark action

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The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) intends to confiscate shareholder dividends paid by companies convicted of criminal offences, according to reports today.

The SFO won a civil recovery order, which approves court action, yesterday against the principal shareholder of a company that had admitted corruption.

Mabey Engineering Holding agreed to repay the £131,201 dividend it received from Mabey & Johnson, which built bridges in Iraq and admitted corruption and breaches of UN sanctions in 2009.

Two former Mabey & Johnson executives went to prison after the company reported their behaviour to the SFO.

A national newspaper said the agreement, approved by the High Court, marks the first time that the SFO has tried to recover proceeds of crime by targeting dividends paid in the UK.

The parties involved could not be reached for immediate comment.