Corrupt MoD official convicted of misconduct in public office

Jeffrey Cook pocketed kickbacks worth at least £70,000 in exchange for defence contracts whilst he was an MoD civil servant
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By Tevye Markson

07 Mar 2024

A former Ministry of Defence official has been convicted of misconduct in public office after being found guilty of taking kickbacks of more than £70,000 in exchange for commissioning work from offshore consultants.

The Serious Fraud Office yesterday secured the conviction of Jeffrey Cook at Southwark Crown Court.

SFO investigators uncovered that Cook concealed payments and gifts while he was employed at the MoD and seconded to a defence contractor, called Paradigm, that was owned by Airbus.

Between 2004 and 2008, Cook used his position as a civil servant to commission five reports for the MoD on its “SANGCOM” project to provide military communications equipment and services to the Saudi Arabian National Guard. The reports examined topics including “SANGCOM project activities”, “strategic considerations” and “business strategy”.

ME Consultants Ltd, registered in the Cayman Islands, and where Cook held personal contacts, were paid £700,000 for this work, with at least 10% of this fee going back to Cook directly. Cook received more than £44,000 in cash and two cars worth more than £30,000, arranged via a Chelmsford car dealership belonging to Peter Austin, the principal shareholder at the consultancy. 

Following his secondment, Cook left the MoD to join the UK defence firm GPT Special Project Management Ltd – which was bought by Paradigm in 2007 – as its managing director. The SFO successfully prosecuted GPT as part of the case in 2021. The company pleaded guilty to corruption and paid a penalty totalling almost £30m for its actions.

SFO director Nick Ephgrave said: “This was an exceptionally complex investigation and prosecution which no other public body could have delivered.

“Jeffrey Cook betrayed public confidence and, thanks to our tenacity on this case, has rightly been held accountable.”

Cook will be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on 12 April. Separately, Cook was acquitted of paying bribes totalling millions of pounds to a Saudi prince and his associates to secure and maintain a huge defence deal for a British company.

A UK government spokesperson said: “We have a zero-tolerance approach to misconduct in public office and therefore welcome this conviction.

“We expect all staff to act in accordance with the civil dervice code and the Vlvalues and dtandards of the single services, to stand up against unethical behaviour.”

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