BBC Worldwide, commercial arm of the publicly funded British Broadcasting Corporation, has become embroiled in an alleged corruption scandal with the arrest of one of its executives.

Jeff Taylor, the unit’s director of global marketing and brand development, is being held on suspicion of receiving illegal payments for orders of toys and watches.

The allegations originate from an investigation by Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption into a firm called EMS, one of BBC Worldwide’s agents, responsible for seeking out companies to manufacture products based on the Corporation’s shows.

Taylor and directors of two associated companies, claims the ICAC, received up to £1.2 million over the last three years in illegal commissions from suppliers, with hit children’s show The Tweenies thought to be at the heart of the scam.

BBC Worldwide, a business boasting an annual turnover of almost £600m, has suspended Taylor during the inquiry. “The BBC and BBC Worldwide are taking this investigation very seriously,” said a spokeswoman. “As soon as the BBC was made aware of these inquiries, the BBC immediately began its own internal enquiry. We are cooperating with the ICAC and are awaiting further details from them.”

News source: Media Week (UK)