By Christophe Michels, Managing Director of the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC).

Engineer Rasmi Al Jabri passed away suddenly yesterday on a walk outside his home in Erbil. He will be missed by his family, his tribe and his many friends, colleagues and admirers.

Rasmi was born 1939 in the city of Qurnah in Southern Iraq, where the two great rivers meet and where, it is said, the Garden of Eden once stood. His long and beautiful life encompasses the rise and fall of Iraq in the 20th century and the struggle for Iraq following the war of 2003. Rasmi was a true patriot who cut across political, ethnic, and religious divisions, which all rather seemed strange and artificial to him. He was a man of exceptional integrity with wonderful humour. He loved being part of the community he happened to be in and spoke to all people around him treating them with equal respect, be they ministers, mullahs, taxi drivers or waiters.

Rasmi was constantly on the move in Iraq, in the Middle East, Europe, and Canada, but he never left his home country for long. This happened only once to complete his studies as chemical and petroleum engineer in Birmingham. He loved and admired the United Kingdom and he fully dedicated his last years to building ties between Iraq and the UK. His work with IBBC was purely voluntary and his achievements were so great that you could not have advertised for someone to do the same.

He started with IBBC as an early member representing his company the Basrah Engineering Group (BEG). After a few years he decided to hand BEG over to his associates and to fully engage with IBBC. He first joined our Executive Committee, and soon afterwards became our Iraq Representative to finally join the IBBC Board and become Deputy Chairman.

He worked tirelessly at resolving problems of our Members in Iraq, but his real delight was to organise large delegations of Iraqi businessmen from all regions of Iraq to attend events in London. This effort culminated in over 400 Iraqi businessmen coming to the UK thanks to his efforts last year alone. There is an argument to be made that these businessmen did little business during their visits but this missed the fundamental point that having them leave Iraq and visit the UK was a crucial achievement in itself. It opened a first door to the wider world for many of them and at the same time created a unique feeling of cohesion and patriotism between these large and diverse groups of Iraqis, who found themselves visiting a western country often for the first time.

For more than a year now Rasmi has been working closely with our Baghdad office manager Muhanad Al Khatab, particularly when it comes to the organisation of these Iraqi delegations. I know that Muhanad who had deep sympathies for Rasmi and resembles him in many ways will continue this important work in the years to come.

In July of last year Rasmi, Brigadier James Ellery and myself visited Ramadi following an invitation of our friend and former MP of Ramadi Jaber Al Jabri. When we arrived at Jaber’s residence we found the great reception hall filled with maybe 50 or 60 dignitaries representing the tribes and the political and academic elites of Anbar. For 2 hours Rasmi spoke to all present about IBBC, the United Kingdom and Iraq, and why we had come to visit, and he listened and responded to all the comments made and questions asked. It was a very lively discussion which Rasmi mastered completely on his own talking to these important people whom he had never met before. Our excursion to Ramadi was indeed successful with the Governor of Anbar visiting IBBC in the UK only a few months later.

The day of Rasmi’s demise I spoke with him as I did almost every day and told him that one of our Members was in advanced discussions with Anbar governorate to engage in a major infrastructure project. This news pleased him, but did not surprise him, after all was it not the logical thing to happen?

Sayyid Rasmi whom I have never seen wearing a black turban and who in bars and cafes amused himself and others by ordering a gin and tonic without gin, will be deeply missed. It was a true privilege and blessing to have known him so well.

The post Rasmi Al Jabri, 1939 – 2020 first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Applications for 2021/2022 Chevening Scholarships are now open until 12:00 (midday) GMT on 3 November 2020.

Chevening is the UK Government’s global scholarship programme that offers future leaders the unique opportunity to study in the UK. These scholarships are awarded to outstanding professionals from all over the world to pursue a one-year master’s degree in any subject at any UK university.

Chevening provides fully-funded scholarships, leaving you free to focus on achieving your academic goals and enjoying the experience of a lifetime. You will live and study in the UK for a year, during which time you will develop professionally and academically, grow your network, experience UK culture, and build lasting positive relationships with the UK.

If you have ambition, leadership qualities, and a strong academic background, we encourage you to apply during the application window.

Full detail here.

The post Chevening Scholarships Now Open first appeared on Iraq Business News.

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) has announcd that Radiola Aerospace has joined as a new member.

In a statement, the IBBC said:

Having operated in Iraq since 2004, Radiola is well known in Iraq, and has been deeply involved in the provision of navigation and communication systems at Iraq’s leading airports, as well as validation and inspection of flight services.

Richard Thompson, executive director of Radiola explains ‘the company constantly pioneers and evolves their technical services to meet the highest standards in operations and testing and bring best practice from around the world to Iraq’s airports. ‘Our clients include both Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) as regulators, the General Company of Air Navigation Services (GCANS) , and local airport operators such as Erbil, Najaf and Suleymaniyah. Richard sees an ongoing relationship with Iraq as it expands its aerospace capabilities.

Richard says ‘ we joined IBBC to give us a more formal window into Iraq and consolidate the relationships with the key players in the country, and we look forward to evolving and adapting our technology to support all forms of aerospace services’.

Christophe Michels, MD of IBBC says’ we are delighted to receive Radiola as members and to strengthen the aerospace sector table grouping. We expect to add value to Radiola’s relationships and profile among the private and public sectors and learn from its technical leadership’

(Source: IBBC)

By John Lee.

Aggreko plc, the Scottish-based supplier of temporary power generation equipment, has won a significant order in Iraq during the first half of this year.

In its results for the six months ended 30th June 2020, the company said:

“Order intake [in its Power Solutions Utility division] was 237 MW (2019: 245 MW), including 165 MW in Iraq.”

The value of the order was not disclosed.

(Source: Aggreko)

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)

Iraq Business News would like to recommend an excellent and informative webinar from the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC)‘s Young Executives Network (YEN), featuring a discussion with Ali Al-Saffar, the Middle East and North Africa Program Manager at the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris.

Ali shared his insights on “The importance of oil and gas to Iraq’s economy and the opportunities for and challenges to diversification“.

Also on the panel were Mr Sammy Sharifi, Co-Chair of IBBC YEN, and Ms Layla Al-Hassani of BP and Co-Chair of IBBC YEN.

To watch this Webinar please click here or here.

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)

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) held its biannual council meeting on Wednesday 8 July. The meeting was chaired by Bob Phillips (Mott MacDonald), member of IBBC’s Executive Committee and was attended by over 30 IBBC member company’s representatives.

Following a discussion of the present situation in Iraq and the UK, led by IBBC’s President Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, IBBC members reviewed the Council’s activities since January.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, President of IBBC

Christophe Michels, MD of IBBC commented “since the lockdown started in March, with its management based out of London, Baghdad and Erbil, IBBC organised 25 online meetings for its members with, among others, GoI and KRG Ministers and Governors, officials from the FCO, DIT and a series of meetings with the WB and IFC. We also vigorously continued to pursue our tech, education, women in business and young executive initiatives and have launched free WB and IFC sponsored business awareness online tutorials for Iraqi SMEs. Our Advisory Council published a white paper for the incoming Iraqi Government which was widely praised in Iraq and by the international community”.

Mrs Hadeel Hassan, The Founder and Managing Director, Al Hadeel Al Hasan & Partners

Prior to the Council Meeting there was a meeting of the IBBC Executive Committee, which reviews the overall work of IBBC and advises its management. At the meeting the committee welcomed two new members, Mrs Hadeel Hasan, the founder and managing director at Al Hadeel Al Hasan & Partners, and Zaid Elyaseri the Country Manager of BP in Iraq.

Zaid Elyaseri, Country Manager Iraq, BP

At both meetings IBBC members expressed their satisfaction with the work of the Council in these challenging times. Many also acknowledged that the present crisis facing Iraq was indeed very challenging and that all businesses were suffering from it, but that the country had seen worse economic and other crisis in its recent history and was extremely resilient and resourceful in weathering such difficult times.

(Source: IBBC)

By John Lee.

Turkey’s official export credit agency has reportedy agreed to provide $79.2 million in reinsurance support to its U.K. counterpart’s energy projects in Iraq.

According to Daily Sabah, Türk Eximbank will provide UK Export Finance (UKEF) with cash in proportion to the value of Turkish exports and services that will be used in the first phase of the power projects in Iraq.

More here.

(Source: Daily Sabah)