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Another Unaoil Bribery Conviction Overturned


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By John Lee.

The UK's Court of Appeal has reportedly overturned the conviction of Paul Bond, who was jailed last year in relation to the Unaoil bribery scandal in Iraq.

Mr Bond (69), a former senior sales manager at SBM Offshore (SBM), had been sentenced to three and a half years in prison on two counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments to Iraqi public officials to secure lucrative oil contracts in post-occupation Iraq.

According to Bond's legal team, key evidence was withheld from the defence during the trial.

In December, Ziad Akle, Unaoil's territory manager for Iraq, has had his conviction for bribery quashed.

(Sources: Evening Standard, Reuters)

Posted in Iraq Industry & Trade News, Iraq Oil & Gas News
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Unaoil Bribery Conviction Quashed


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By John Lee.

Ziad Akle, Unaoil's territory manager for Iraq, has had his conviction for bribery quashed by the UK's Court of Appeal today (Friday).

He had been sentenced to five years' imprisonment in July 2020 having been found guilty of paying over $500,000 in bribes to secure a $55-million contract to supply offshore mooring buoys in Iraq.

The court found that the refusal by Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to provide key documents to the defence was "a serious failure by the SFO to comply with their duty," adding that "that failure was particularly regrettable given that some of the documents had a clear potential to embarrass the SFO in their prosecution of this case."

Paul Bond, a former senior sales manager at SBM Offshore (SBM), which was a client of Unaoil, had his request for leave to appeal against his sentence denied.

The full judgement can be read here.

 More here, here and here.

(Source: England and Wales Court of Appeal - Criminal Division)

Posted in Iraq Industry & Trade News, Iraq Oil & Gas News, Security
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Fourth Oil Exec Jailed for Iraq Bribery


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Paul Bond has today been sentenced to three and half years' imprisonment for conspiring with others to bribe Iraqi public officials to secure lucrative oil contracts in post-occupation Iraq.

Earlier this week, Bond, a former senior sales manager at SBM Offshore (SBM), was found guilty on two counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments following a retrial of his case at Southwark Crown Court.

This was the fourth conviction the SFO secured in its wide-scale Unaoil bribery investigation, which uncovered the payment of over $17m worth of bribes to secure $1.7bn worth of contracts for Unaoil and its clients.

In 2007, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil set out a 'master plan' to rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure, which had been destroyed after years of conflict. The post-occupation government tasked the state-owned South Oil Company (SOC) to commission the construction of new oil pipelines and the installation of single offshore mooring buoys (SPMs) in the Persian Gulf.

Together with Unaoil employees, Paul Bond funnelled $900,000 in bribes to Iraqi public officials at the SOC and the Ministry of Oil, which bought access to sensitive information, allowing Bond and others to skew the tendering process in SBM's favour. SBM went on to win a $55m contract for the provision of SPMs.

Lisa Osofsky, Director of the Serious Fraud Office, said:

"Bond and his co-conspirators manipulated the tendering process for an infrastructure project vital to Iraq's developing economy, with no regard for the impact.

The string of convictions in this case demonstrate the SFO's determination to root out and prosecute corrupt practices in all corners of the globe working with law enforcement partners across the world. "

Bond's conviction follows that of former Unaoil territory managers Stephen Whiteley and Ziad Akle [Update 10th Dec 2021: Akle's conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal], who were last year found guilty of conspiring to bribe Iraqi public officials to secure substantial oil contracts. In July 2019, Basil Al Jarah, Unaoil's former Iraq partner, pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments, and later asked for a number of additional offences to be taken into consideration, in total admitting to paying over $17m in bribes to secure contracts worth $1.7bn.

Ziad Akle was sentenced to five years' imprisonment, Stephen Whiteley to three years' imprisonment, and Basil Al Jarah to three years and four months' imprisonment for their crimes.

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.

More here.

(Source: SFO)

Posted in Iraq Oil & Gas News, Security
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UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO)

Former Unaoil Exec Jailed over Bribery in Iraq


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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)

Posted in Iraq Oil & Gas News, Security
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Iraq Bribery Trial starts in London


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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)

Posted in Iraq Oil & Gas News, Security
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UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO)

Former Unaoil Exec pleads Guilty to Iraq Corruption


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Former Unaoil executive pleads guilty to conspiracy to give corrupt payments

Basil Al Jarah, Unaoil’s former partner in Iraq, pleaded guilty on 15 July 2019 to five offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments in connection with the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO)’s investigation into Unaoil.

The offences relate to the award of contracts to supply and install single point moorings and oil pipelines in southern Iraq. A court order restricting reporting of the plea was lifted today.

In the same investigation, Ziad Akle, Paul Bond and Stephen Whiteley have been charged with conspiracy to make corrupt payments. A trial is scheduled to begin on 13 January 2020 at Southwark Crown Court.

(Source: UK Serious Fraud Office)

Posted in Iraq Oil & Gas News, Security
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UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO)

Two more charged in UK’s Unaoil Investigation


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The UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has charged two further individuals in relation to the Unaoil investigation.

Paul Bond and Stephen Whiteley have both been charged with conspiracy to make corrupt payments to secure the award of contracts in Iraq to Unaoil’s client SBM Offshore.

The charges relate to alleged corrupt conduct within Unaoil, between June 2005 and August 2011.

  • Paul Bond has been charged with two offences of conspiracy to make corrupt payments, contrary to section (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 and contrary to section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.
  • Stephen Whiteley has been charged with one offence of conspiracy to make corrupt payments, contrary to section (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 and contrary to section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.

Paul Bond and Stephen Whiteley will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court at 10am on Thursday 7th December.

The investigation is ongoing.

(Source: UK SFO)

Posted in Iraq Oil & Gas News, Security
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