The BBC faces more negative press coverage after a former marketing director at its commercial arm admitted accepting bribes.
Jeff Taylor (42), one-time director of global marketing and brand development at BBC Worldwide, told a court in Hong Kong he had received almost £200,000 ($364,619; €292,616). The cash relates to contracts for £9 million of merchandise from suppliers in Hong Kong and China.
The scandal dates back over two years to an investigation by Hong Kong authorities into Eurasia Management Services, which held an exclusive contract to source toys and watches for BBC Worldwide. This merchandise is thought to have tied in with the broadcaster's hit children's shows Tweenies and Teletubbies.
In November 2001, Taylor was arrested in connection with the EMS probe on suspicion of receiving illegal handouts for placing orders for toys and watches [WAMN: 05-Nov-01]. The BBC, which fired him in December 2001, subsequently called in Arthur Andersen to investigate, then launched a civil action against EMS in the UK [WAMN: 15-Mar-02].
"We welcome the fact the Hong Kong justice system has secured a successful outcome," declared BBC Worldwide, which pursues commercial ventures for the publicly funded broadcaster.
"Civil proceedings in the UK have been stayed, pending the outcome of criminal proceedings in Hong Kong. BBC Worldwide will now be examining the pursuit of the UK civil proceedings as a matter of urgency in the next few days."
The news comes at a sensitive time for the BBC, which is still reeling from the loss of its two most senior officers following the Hutton Report into the death of weapons expert Dr David Kelly [WAMN: 30-Jan-04].
Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff