Former executive officer jailed for £22 million IT contract plot

A former executive officer at an Oxfordshire-based company, who conspired to ensure a £22 million contract was awarded to an IT company, has been sentenced for bribery, money laundering and false accounting offences.

Brian Chant, 62, of The Middle Way, Andover, abused his position as Chief Information Officer (CIO) at a company to secure a multi-million pound contract for an IT company which he had previous connections with.

An investigation by the City of London Police found that Chant had received over £474,000 in bribes over the course of his employment with the company.

Chant was sentenced on Tuesday 1 February 2022 at Southwark Crown Court following a six-week trial in December 2021. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment for bribery and 18 months for false accounting to run concurrently. The judge also granted a three-year company director disqualification order.

Detective Constable Trevor Baker, from the City of London Police’s Fraud Operations Team, said:

“I can only describe Chant’s actions as pure greed. He had a respectable, well-paid job – but clearly this was not enough for him.

“Even before he started his new job, Chant planted a seed in the mind of the IT company director, by approaching him with suggestions of new business for his company. Chant then manipulated his colleagues to ensure that this company won the contract, leaving a digital trail of emails which corroborated his guilt.

“Despite the overwhelming evidence, Chant refused to accept responsibility and instead wasted the public’s time and money through a six-week trial. Chant was eventually found guilty by a jury and has now faced justice for his crimes.”

Chant joined the company as interim CIO in 2011, and was soon made permanent in this role with a yearly salary of £150,000. One of Chant’s first recommendations was for the company to outsource its IT work, for which he prepared a paper suggesting three external companies.

Two companies presented to the company’s board, with Chant pushing for one in particular to be selected. This IT company was eventually appointed and awarded a contract worth £22 million.

Chant became defensive when his employer flagged issues with the IT company’s delivery, such as the difficulty around migrating a major customer to their new platform. As these problems persisted under Chant’s leadership, the IT company’s director was assigned the role of handling the client relationship in 2013.

Later that year, Chant was dismissed by from his role after the IT company director informed the employer of issues with the CIO’s management.

A separate investigation led by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) raised concerns around invoices submitted by the IT company for VAT reclaim in relation to services from a company with the details of Chant Consulting Ltd, of which Chant was listed as director. Further enquiries by HMRC uncovered Chant’s employment history and the IT company’s contract with his employer, suggesting bribery payments between the two.

The bribery aspect of the case was handed over to the City of London Police to investigate. A search warrant was executed by officers at the home of Chant, with officers seizing his computer. A review of email exchanges between Chant and the IT company confirmed suspicions that he had plotted to secure the IT company’s contract.

Chant had in fact contacted the IT company before starting as interim CIO, stating that his new role may be able to acquire business for the company. A series of emails then proceeded showing Chant navigating the IT company through the process of securing the contract.

Analysis of Chant’s bank accounts found a series of payments totalling £474,069.60 during his employment, which were made to him by the IT company.

Chant was interviewed by HMRC and the City of London Police on multiple occasions, and during each interview he created elaborate excuses for the payments.

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