Whistleblower jailed over bribes to Greek officials

By Wesley Johnson,Press Association
Sunday 23 October 2011 02:21

A former senior healthcare executive who helped pay more than £4.5 million in bribes to Greek officials to win contracts and then turned whistleblower on his bosses was jailed for 12 months today.

Robert John Dougall is the first person to enable a "serious and complex case of corporate corruption to be unlocked from his own testimony", Southwark Crown Court in London heard.

The 44-year-old businessman helped arrange for corrupt payments amounting to 23 per cent of the sale price to be paid to a third party for use in bribing surgeons and doctors in Greece for their business.

Jailing him today, Mr Justice Bean said: "Corruption was, in effect, a company policy pre-dating your involvement and approved by your superiors."

Dougall was vice president of Leeds-based DePuy Inc and marketing director of DePuy International, which were both subsidiaries of United States healthcare group Johnson & Johnson.

The judge went on: "There is ample evidence that this corruption was an endemic feature of the Greek healthcare system.

"I accept that it is likely to have involved the knowledge, consent and participation of individuals with senior responsibilities in the group of companies in which you worked."

But the judge dismissed a joint suggestion by prosecutors and the defence that the 44-year-old businessman should be given a suspended sentence.

The Serious Fraud Office has encouraged those involved in corruption to co-operate with their investigations in return for lighter sentences.

But the judge said: "I accept that public policy consideration.

"But it does not justify a suspended sentence in a case where corruption was systemic and long-term and involved several million pounds in corrupt payments."

Dougall, of Fulthorpe Grove, Wynyard, Billingham, stared straight ahead and showed no emotion as he was sent down.