15:47, June 26 287 0 theguardian.com

2018-06-26 15:47:31
SFO to prosecute Monaco-based Unaoil on corruption charges

The Serious Fraud Office is to prosecute an oil company following a two-year criminal investigation into alleged bribery in the energy industry.

On Tuesday, the SFO announced that it was bringing four charges of corruption against Unaoil, a Monaco-based oil consultancy. The company is accused of conspiring to making corrupt payments to secure Iraqi construction contracts for two multinationals.

The charges against the company follow the SFO’s previous decision to prosecute four executives with conspiring to make corrupt payments to secure Iraqi contracts.

The SFO initiated its investigation into Unaoil in March 2016.

In a statement the Ahsani family, which owns and operates Unaoil, said: “We have seen the SFO’s announcement of charges against two companies today but we have yet to receive any summonses. The SFO is targeting two companies that are in the process of being liquidated – those liquidations being as a result of the SFO’s protracted investigation.”

The family also observed that one of the companies charged by the SFO was incorporated in Monaco, which recently declined to extradite a member of the Ahsani family at the request of the SFO. They said: “We will take time to carefully scrutinise these charges if they ever materialise.”

According to the SFO’s announcement, the first pair of charges relate to alleged corrupt payments to secure the award of a $733m (£555m) contract to build two oil pipelines in southern Iraq for Leighton, an Australian construction firm.

The second pair of charges relate to alleged corrupt payments to secure the award of contracts in Iraq to SBM Offshore, a Dutch firm that manufactures oil platforms. The SFO described SBM Offshore as a Unaoil client. SBM said it would not comment as it was “not a party to these proceedings”.

Unaoil has been summonsed to appear at Westminster magistrates court in London on 18 July.

The SFO’s first charges arising out of its investigation into Unaoil were brought against four individuals last November.

Ziad Akle, who lives in London, and Basil Al Jarah from Hull were charged with conspiracy to make corrupt payments to secure contracts in Iraq. The SFO described Akle as Unaoil’s territory manager for Iraq, and Jarah as the company’s Iraq partner.

According to the SFO, the charges concern alleged corrupt conduct within Unaoil between June 2005 and August 2011 and related to SBM Offshore.

Also charged were Paul Bond, described by the SFO as a former senior sales manager with SBM Offshore, and Stephen Whiteley described as a former vice-president with SBM Offshore and Unaoil’s general territories manager for Iraq, Kazakhstan and Angola.

In May, the SFO brought further charges against Akle and Jarah of conspiring to give corrupt payments to secure the contract to build two oil pipelines in southern Iraq for Leighton. The SFO said it received assistance from the Australian Federal police in connection with its investigation.

The SFO was given special funding from the Treasury for its investigation into Unaoil.


Week News

Month News

Year News