Second former Unaoil executive sentenced for bribery in post-occupation Iraq

Stephen Whiteley, Unaoil‘s former territory manager for Iraq, has today become the second Unaoil executive to be sentenced for paying over $500,000 in bribes to secure a $55m contract to supply offshore mooring buoys. He was sentenced by HHJ Beddoe to 3 years’ imprisonment.

This follows the sentencing of his co-conspirator Ziad Akle on 23 July 2020, another former Iraq territory manager for Unaoil, upon whom HHJ Beddoe imposed a sentence of five years’ imprisonment.

The two men conspired with others to pay considerable bribes to public officials at the South Oil Company to secure contracts for Unaoil and its clients to construct offshore mooring buoys in the Persian Gulf. The new buoys formed part of a series of state-run projects designed by the government of post-occupation Iraq to boost its economy by rebuilding the country’s oil industry and thereby expanding its oil export capacity.

A jury at Southwark Crown Court found Stephen Whiteley guilty on one count of conspiracy to give corrupt payments. In the same trial, his co-conspirator, Ziad Akle, was found guilty on two counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments.

SFO Director Lisa Osofsky said:

Faced with a country in desperate need of reconstruction following years of military occupation, Stephen Whiteley, Ziad Akle and their co-conspirators saw an opportunity to swindle the fledgling state for their own ends.

“The flagrant greed and callous criminality exhibited by these men undermines the reputation and integrity of British business on the international stage. We will not cease in our mission to bring such people to justice.

The convictions followed the guilty pleas of co-conspirator Basil Al Jarah who, in July 2019, admitted five offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments. Al Jarah, who admitted to paying bribes totalling over $6million to secure contracts worth $800m for the supply of oil pipelines and offshore mooring buoys, is due to be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on 8 October 2020.

(Source: UK SFO)

Ziad Akle, Unaoil‘s territory manager for Iraq, has been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for paying over $500,000 in bribes to secure a $55m contract to supply offshore mooring buoys.

The new buoys formed part of the post-occupation Iraqi government’s “Master Plan” to rebuild Iraq’s oil industry and thereby expand the country’s oil export capacity. To ensure Unaoil benefitted from these state-run projects, Akle, conspiring with Stephen Whiteley and others, bribed public officials at the South Oil Company to secure contracts for Unaoil and its clients.

In his sentencing, HHJ Beddoe said:

“The offences were committed across borders at a time of serious need for the government of Iraq to rebuild after years of sanctions and the devastation of war. They were utterly exploitative at a time when the economic and political situation in Iraq was extremely fragile.”

A jury at Southwark Crown Court found Akle guilty on two counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments. Another individual, Stephen Whiteley, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to give corrupt payments in relation to the same crime. He will be sentenced on a date to be determined.

SFO Director Lisa Osofsky said:

Ziad Akle and his co-conspirators exploited a country reeling from years of dictatorship and military occupation to line his own pockets and win business. It is this combination of greed and heartless avarice that led to these convictions.

“Today’s sentencing sends a clear message that the United Kingdom and the SFO will not tolerate criminal activity that undermines the fairness and integrity of international business.

The convictions followed the guilty pleas of co-conspirator Basil Al Jarah who, in July 2019, admitted five offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments. Al Jarah, who admitted to paying bribes totalling over $6million to secure contracts worth $800m for the supply of oil pipelines and offshore mooring buoys, is due to be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on 8 October 2020.

(Source: SFO)

By John Lee.

The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has secured convictions against two former oil executives who conspired to give corrupt payments to secure contracts in Iraq.

A jury at Southwark Crown Court found Ziad Akle guilty on two counts and Stephen Whiteley guilty on one count of conspiracy to give corrupt payments. The convictions follow the guilty pleas of co-conspirator Basil Al Jarah who, in July 2019, admitted five offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments.

In the years of reconstruction following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the three men conspired with others to pay bribes to public officials at the Iraqi South Oil Company (SOC) and, and in Basil Al Jarah’s case the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, to secure oil contracts for Unaoil and its clients.

The post-occupation Iraqi government had commissioned the South Oil Company to run projects as part of a “Master Plan” to rebuild Iraq’s oil industry and thereby expand the country’s oil export capacity. This included the installation of offshore mooring buoys and new oil pipelines.

To ensure Unaoil benefitted from these state-run projects, the defendants and co-conspirators conspired to bribe public officials at the South Oil Company and Ministry of Oil to secure contracts for Unaoil and its clients SBM Offshore. Basil Al Jarah also conspired to bribe public officials at the South Oil Company and the Ministry of Oil to secure contracts for Unaoil and its client Leighton Offshore.

Basil Al Jarah admitted to paying bribes totalling over $6million to secure contracts worth $800m for the supply of oil pipelines and offshore mooring buoys. Ziad Akle and Stephen Whiteley were found guilty of paying over $500,000 in bribes to secure the $55m contract for the offshore mooring buoys.

SFO Director Lisa Osofsky said:

These men dishonestly and corruptly took advantage of a government reeling from dictatorship and occupation, and trying to reconstruct a war-torn state. They abused the system to cut out competitors and line their own pockets.

“It is our mission to pursue and bring to justice those who use criminal means to weaken the integrity of business.

The SFO would like to thank the Australian Federal Police, the French Parquet National Financier, the Police Judiciaires of the Principality of Monaco, the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) of the Netherlands, the United States Department of Justice, Greater Manchester Police, the Metropolitan Police, the National Crime Agency and West Mercia Constabulary for their valuable assistance in this case.

The men are due to be sentenced on 22 and 23 July 2020.

More here.

(Source: UK SFO)

By John Lee.

The trial has begun in London of three British businessmen accused of conspiring to pay bribes totalling $6m (£4.6m) to win contracts in Iraq worth $800 million.

According to the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Monaco-based Unaoil bribed Iraqi officials to help Dutch-based SBM Offshore [Single Buoy Moorings], and Singapore’s Leighton Offshore, to secure the contracts between 2005 and 2013.

The Guardian reports that Ziad Akle (44), Unaoil’s territory manager for Iraq, Stephen Whiteley (64), who was a vice-president at SBM until 2009 before joining Unaoil as its manager for Iraq, and Paul Bond (67) SBM’s sales manager for the Middle East, have all pleaded not guilty.

The trial is expected to last three months.

(Sources: The Guardian, Bloomberg)

In connection with the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO)’s ongoing investigation into Petrofac Limited and its subsidiaries (“Petrofac”), on 6 February 2019 David Lufkin, 51, a British national, and previously Global Head of Sales for Petrofac International Limited, pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court to eleven counts of bribery, contrary to sections 1(1) and 1(2) of the Bribery Act 2010.

These offences relate to the making of corrupt offers to influence the award of contracts to Petrofac worth in excess of USD $730 million in Iraq and in excess of USD $3.5 billion in Saudi Arabia.

The charges included the following:

Payments of approximately USD $2.2 million were ultimately made by Petrofac to two agents in respect of a USD $329.7 million Engineering, Procurement and Construction (“EPC”) contract on the Badra oilfield in Iraq (the “Badra Phase One EPC contract”) awarded to Petrofac in February 2012.

Corrupt offers of payments were also made to an agent to influence the award of contract variations to the Badra Phase One EPC contract, and for the extension of the Badra Operations and Maintenance (“O&M”) contract.  Petrofac was unsuccessful in obtaining these contracts and no payments were made to the agent.

  • Fao [Faw] Terminal, Iraq

Payments of approximately USD $4 million were ultimately made by Petrofac to an agent in respect of an O&M contract on the Fao Terminal project in Iraq (the “Fao Terminal O&M contract”).  The Fao Terminal O&M contract, awarded to Petrofac in August 2012, together with yearly extensions awarded in 2013, 2014 and 2015, was worth approximately USD $400 million to Petrofac.

  • Saudi Arabia

Payments of approximately USD $45 million were made by Petrofac to its agent in respect of the following contracts awarded to Petrofac in Saudi Arabia, between July 2012 and November 2015:

  • Payments of approximately USD $5.8 million were ultimately made by Petrofac to its agent in respect of EPC contracts for the Petro Rabigh Phase II Petrochemical Expansion Project awarded in July 2012 and worth approximately USD $463 million;
  • Payments of approximately USD $21.4 million were ultimately made by Petrofac to its agent in respect of EPC contracts for Jazan Refinery and Terminal Project awarded in December 2012 and worth approximately USD $1.7 billion; and
  • Payments of approximately USD $19.5 million were ultimately made by Petrofac to its agent in respect of the EPC contract for a sulphur recovery plant as part of the Fadhili Gas Plant Project awarded in November 2015 and worth approximately USD $1.56 billion.

Corrupt offers of payments were also made to its agent for the award of other contracts at the time. Petrofac was unsuccessful in obtaining these contracts and no payments were made to its agent.

David Lufkin will be sentenced at a later date.

The SFO’s investigation into Petrofac’s use of agents in multiple jurisdictions, including Iraq and Saudi Arabia, is ongoing.

Individuals with information potentially relevant to this investigation are encouraged to contact the SFO through our secure and confidential reporting channelWhen providing information please quote ‘Petrofac Investigation’.  Please note that it would be of particular assistance if you could provide your contact details for any further queries or questions that we may have.

(Source: UK SFO)

In connection with the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO)’s ongoing investigation into Petrofac Limited and its subsidiaries (“Petrofac”), on 6 February 2019 David Lufkin, 51, a British national, and previously Global Head of Sales for Petrofac International Limited, pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court to eleven counts of bribery, contrary to sections 1(1) and 1(2) of the Bribery Act 2010.

These offences relate to the making of corrupt offers to influence the award of contracts to Petrofac worth in excess of USD $730 million in Iraq and in excess of USD $3.5 billion in Saudi Arabia.

The charges included the following:

Payments of approximately USD $2.2 million were ultimately made by Petrofac to two agents in respect of a USD $329.7 million Engineering, Procurement and Construction (“EPC”) contract on the Badra oilfield in Iraq (the “Badra Phase One EPC contract”) awarded to Petrofac in February 2012.

Corrupt offers of payments were also made to an agent to influence the award of contract variations to the Badra Phase One EPC contract, and for the extension of the Badra Operations and Maintenance (“O&M”) contract.  Petrofac was unsuccessful in obtaining these contracts and no payments were made to the agent.

  • Fao [Faw] Terminal, Iraq

Payments of approximately USD $4 million were ultimately made by Petrofac to an agent in respect of an O&M contract on the Fao Terminal project in Iraq (the “Fao Terminal O&M contract”).  The Fao Terminal O&M contract, awarded to Petrofac in August 2012, together with yearly extensions awarded in 2013, 2014 and 2015, was worth approximately USD $400 million to Petrofac.

  • Saudi Arabia

Payments of approximately USD $45 million were made by Petrofac to its agent in respect of the following contracts awarded to Petrofac in Saudi Arabia, between July 2012 and November 2015:

  • Payments of approximately USD $5.8 million were ultimately made by Petrofac to its agent in respect of EPC contracts for the Petro Rabigh Phase II Petrochemical Expansion Project awarded in July 2012 and worth approximately USD $463 million;
  • Payments of approximately USD $21.4 million were ultimately made by Petrofac to its agent in respect of EPC contracts for Jazan Refinery and Terminal Project awarded in December 2012 and worth approximately USD $1.7 billion; and
  • Payments of approximately USD $19.5 million were ultimately made by Petrofac to its agent in respect of the EPC contract for a sulphur recovery plant as part of the Fadhili Gas Plant Project awarded in November 2015 and worth approximately USD $1.56 billion.

Corrupt offers of payments were also made to its agent for the award of other contracts at the time. Petrofac was unsuccessful in obtaining these contracts and no payments were made to its agent.

David Lufkin will be sentenced at a later date.

The SFO’s investigation into Petrofac’s use of agents in multiple jurisdictions, including Iraq and Saudi Arabia, is ongoing.

Individuals with information potentially relevant to this investigation are encouraged to contact the SFO through our secure and confidential reporting channelWhen providing information please quote ‘Petrofac Investigation’.  Please note that it would be of particular assistance if you could provide your contact details for any further queries or questions that we may have.

(Source: UK SFO)

The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has commenced criminal proceedings against Unaoil Monaco SAM and Unaoil Ltd as part of an ongoing corruption prosecution.

This follows charges already brought against four individuals for alleged conspiracy to make corrupt payments to secure the award of contracts in Iraq.

Unaoil Ltd has been summonsed with two offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments, contrary to section (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 and section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.

This relates to alleged corrupt payments to secure the award of a contract worth US$733 million to Leighton Contractors Singapore PTE Ltd for a project to build two oil pipelines in southern Iraq.

Unaoil Monaco SAM has been summonsed with two offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments, contrary to section (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 and section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.

The charges relate to alleged corrupt payments to secure the award of contracts in Iraq to Unaoil’s client SBM Offshore.

The first appearance for the companies will be held at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 18 July 2018.

(Source: SFO)

The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has brought further charges against two individuals facing trial in relation to the Unaoil investigation.

Basil Al Jarah and Ziad Akle have both been charged with conspiracy to give corrupt payments to secure the award of a contract worth US$733 million to Leighton Contractors Singapore PTE Ltd for a project to build two oil pipelines in southern Iraq.

  • Basil Al Jarah was charged on 15 May 2018 with two offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments, contrary to section (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
  • Ziad Akle was charged on 16 May 2018 with one offence of conspiracy to give corrupt payments, contrary to section (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.

Basil Al Jarah and Ziad Akle will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 23 May 2018.

The SFO would like to thank the Australian Federal Police for the assistance it provided in connection with our investigation.

The investigation is ongoing.

(Source: SFO)