Former Unaoil executive sentenced for paying bribes to win $1.7-billion worth of contracts
Basil Al Jarah has today been sentenced to three years and four months' imprisonment for paying in excess of $17m in bribes to dishonestly secure approximately $1.7bn worth of contracts in post-occupation Iraq.
Al Jarah, Unaoil's former Iraq partner, conspired with others to pay millions of dollars in bribes to public officials at the South Oil Company and Iraqi Ministry of Oil. These bribes secured contracts for Unaoil and its clients to construct oil pipelines, offshore mooring buoys in the Persian Gulf, and other infrastructure projects, collectively worth just over $1.7bn.
These contracts formed part of the Iraqi Ministry of Oil's 'Master Plan' to rebuild its oil export capacity and revitalise the Iraqi economy after years of war and occupation.
Director of the Serious Fraud Office Lisa Osofsky said:
"Al Jarah and his co-conspirators' machinations, driven by greed and heartless avarice, compromised the fairness of the bidding process and ultimately drove up the price a war-torn country had to pay for essential infrastructural upgrades, earning Unaoil and its clients vast profits in the process.
"This was a classic case of corruption, where powerful men took advantage of the desperation and vulnerability of others to line their own pockets. I'm proud that the SFO could bring these men to justice."
Al Jarah pleaded guilty to five offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments in July 2019 in relation to two projects; one to install three mooring buoys and one to construct two oil pipelines. Co-conspirators on the mooring buoys bribery, Stephen Whiteley and Ziad Akle, were found guilty of one and two counts, respectively, of conspiracy to give corrupt payments in July 2020. [Update 10th Dec 2021: Akle's conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal]. Akle was sentenced to five years' imprisonment and Whiteley to three years' imprisonment by HHJ Beddoe in July 2020. A further individual, Paul Bond, faces retrial in January 2021.
At his sentencing hearing on 8 October 2020 Al Jarah asked for further offences to be taken into consideration in relation to two other projects: one to install an oil platform and one to install a third oil pipeline.
(Source: UK SFO)