Sweett Group, a British property management, construction and surveying company, announced today that the board has resolved to close its Middle East business and exit the region.

This follows the company's announcement on Dec. 2, 2015 that it had decided to exit the Middle East "as soon as reasonably practicable and was reviewing its options," the company said. "This decision represents a further step in the delivery of the strategy set out in April 2015 and follows the sale of the APAC and India businesses in October 2015." 

The Company said it "intends, where possible, to service all existing contracts and, if necessary, will arrange for the orderly handover to local consultancies."  Following the closure of MENA, Sweett Group now has operations in the U.K., Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, the United States, and Canada.

Further information will be provided at the time of the release in April 2016 of the company's trading update for the year ended March 31, 2016.

Bribery Case

In December 2015, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office confirmed that Sweett Group admitted to violating the Bribery Act, regarding conduct in the Middle East. “Further details will be made available when the matter comes before court, at a date still to be determined,” the SFO said. The resolution would mark the SFO’s first conviction since enactment of the Bribery Act in 2011.

As Compliance Week previously reported, the SFO in 2014 opened an investigation into Sweett Group “in relation to its activities in the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere.” SFO launched the investigation after allegations surfaced that a former Sweett Group employee allegedly offered to award a design contract to architecture firm HLW International for a hospital being built in Morocco, if the firm agreed to pay a bribe to a United Arab Emirates official, who was funding the project.