A departmental head at Iraq’s South Oil Company (SOC) has reportedly fled the country after being accused of accepting bribes from a subsidiary of Australia’s Leighton Holdings to help it secure contracts in southern Iraq.
Uday Awad, a member of the Iraqi parliament’s oil and energy committee, told The Australian that the head of the SOC department, whom he declined to name, could have been the front man for other senior officials to receive the bribes.
It is believed that the SOC official, who had been removed from his post, has fled Iraq to a neighboring country. His whereabouts are unknown.
Awad also told The Australian that a group of Iraqi parliament members recently visited the SOC in Basra, where the company’s director general told them the accused individual has been identified and is under investigation.
Last month Leighton Holdings alerted Australian federal police to possible corruption by Leighton Offshore in Iraq
In October 2010 Leighton Offshore was awarded a contract with SOC to install three single point moorings and 120km of 48-inch pipelines in the Arabian Gulf, offshore Iraq.
In October 2011 the subsidiary received further contracts with SOC worth $79m and $518m. The latter was financed and supported through a Japanese Official Development Assistance loan by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Last month Iraq opened the first of Leighton’s single point mooring sea terminals.