Former PWS executive Julian Messent jailed for bribes

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A former chief executive at a City firm has been jailed for 21 months after admitting paying bribes to win contracts overseas.

Julian Messent, 50, resigned in 2006 as chief executive officer (CEO) at insurance company PWS - founded by former UKIP leader Lord Pearson.

Messent had helped funnel £1.2m in corrupt payments to officials in Costa Rica between 1999 and 2002.

His pay was linked to the amount of business he won, the court heard.

The payments were made while he was a director of the company's international property division. He became the company's CEO in 2003.

Sentencing him for his part in authorising 41 corrupt payments in exchange for the contracts, Judge Geoffrey Rivlin told him his offences justified a four- to five-year prison sentence.

But he had taken into account his early guilty plea and that he was a family man of previous good character, he said.

The judge added: "It is plain, Mr Messent, that you were deeply involved in the decision making and the process of these crimes. You orchestrated them."

He also barred Messent, of Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, from serving as a company director for five years.

In addition he was ordered to pay the "people and government of Costa Rica" £100,000 in compensation within 21 days or serve an additional 12 months in prison.