Ex-MoD official sent to jail for pocketing secret payments

Jeffrey Cook has been ordered to pay back a six-figure sum
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By Jonathan Owen

15 Apr 2024

A former Ministry of Defence civil servant was jailed for 30 months at Southwark Crown Court on Friday, after being convicted of misconduct in public office last month.

He was also handed a confiscation order to pay £123,813.06 within three months.

Jeffrey Cook had taken kickbacks of more than £70,000 in exchange for lucrative defence contracts that he commissioned whilst at the MoD and seconded to a defence contractor, Paradigm, owned by aircraft manufacturing company Airbus.

Between 2004 and 2008, Cook asked ME Consultants Ltd, registered in the Cayman Islands, to do five reports on the MoD’s “SANGCOM” project to provide military communications equipment and services to the Saudi Arabian National Guard.

The company was paid £702,800 for this work and in return Cook received £44,000 in cash and two cars worth more than £30,000.

Mr Justice Picken told Cook: “You made a personal gain at the expense of the public purse, receiving money that could otherwise have been used for the public in relation to the SANGCOM project or otherwise." He added: “This offence is so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified.”

Following his secondments, Cook left the MoD to join the UK defence firm GPT Special Project Management Ltd, bought by Paradigm in 2007, as its managing director. The Serious Fraud Office successfully prosecuted GPT in 2021 as part of a wider investigation.

The company pleaded guilty to corruption and paid a penalty totalling almost £30m. Last month Cook was acquitted of paying millions of pounds in bribes to a Saudi prince and his associates to secure and maintain a huge defence deal for GPT.

Commenting after Cook was sentenced to jail, SFO director Nick Ephgrave said: "I am proud of my team for their determination and tenacity in prosecuting a complex case of corruption involving the defence industry”.

He added: "Today's sentencing demonstrates the Serious Fraud Office's ability to hold individuals to account, particularly when their actions undermine trust in our institutions."

A government spokesperson said: “We have a zero-tolerance approach to misconduct in public office. We expect all staff to act in accordance with the Civil Service Code and the Values and Standards of the Single Services, to stand up against unethical behaviour.”


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