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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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Second former Unaoil Executive Sentenced for Bribery


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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. [Update 10th Dec 2021: Akle's conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal.]

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)

Posted in Security
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Fmr Unaoil Exec Jailed for Iraq Bribery


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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. [Update 10th Dec 2021: Akle's conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal.]

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)

Posted in Iraq Oil & Gas News, Security
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Iraq Corruption Case: Former Oil Execs Convicted


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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. [Update 10th Dec 2021: Akle's conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal.] 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)

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)

New Charges in Unaoil Investigation re $733m Contract


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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)

Posted in Construction & Engineering In Iraq, Iraq Oil & Gas News, Security
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