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Jamaican official quits amid British bribery probe

KINGSTON, July 14 (Reuters) - A Jamaican government official stepped down on Tuesday after being implicated in a bribery scandal involving British bridge-building firm Mabey & Johnson, but he vowed to “clear my name.”

Joseph Hibbert, Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s junior minister of Transport and Works, resigned effective immediately after being linked to involvement with Mabey & Johnson and alleged corrupt business practices in the Caribbean nation.

“This resignation will allow me the time and freedom to clear my name and my integrity,” Hibbert said in a statement.

The firm, which publicly admitted wrongdoing last week, has been charged in Britain with trying to influence decision-makers such as Hibbert for contracts in both Jamaica and Ghana between 1993 and 2001.

In Britain’s first-ever prosecution of a company for overseas corruption, Mabey & Johnson also has been charged with alleged breaches of U.N. sanctions by applying for contracts under the Iraq oil-for-food program in 2001 and 2002.

Golding’s office said in a statement that the prime minister accepted Hibbert’s resignation.

“In view of the allegations of bribery of Jamaican Government officials made in the UK courts by the British firm Mabey and Johnson Limited in which I am implicated, I have today decided to submit my resignation as Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport and Works to the Honourable Prime Minister,” Hibbert said in the statement. (Reporting by Horace George; Editing by Tom Brown and Will Dunham)

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