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Unaoil: We’re victims of theft and extortion, suing Fairfax Media for reputational damage

Image courtesy of UnaoilUnaoil said in a statement Tuesday that it has instructed its lawyers to start legal action against Fairfax Media and its partners for “malicious and damaging allegations negligently published” by them.

A report in late March by Fairfax Media and the Huffington Post said Monaco-based Unaoil paid bribes on behalf of large companies in the oil and gas sector.

Unaoil said it is filing a criminal complaint with law enforcement in Monaco for the theft of company data.

HuffPo said in an April 11 report that its story was based on leaked internal Unaoil documents.

Unaoil said Tuesday,

Since the exposure in the press of a criminal conspiracy to extort the company, Unaoil has continued to receive serious and personally threatening communications from persons seeking to unlawfully damage Unaoil and its operations.

HuffPo named about a dozen companies it said were “beneficiaries of Unaoil’s network in the Middle East.”

The leaked documents mentioned Core Laboratories, FMC Technologies, Rolls-Royce, and Weatherford, HuffPo said.

Also named were Saipem, MAN Turbo, SBM Offshore, ABB, Cameron/Natco, Leighton Offshore, and Petrofac.

Unaoil said its estimated damages from the story are more than $100 million. It said it “intends to hold Fairfax Media and its partners to account for their irresponsible and injurious reporting.”

UK-based Petrofac said in April it launched an investigation into allegations of bribery to win contracts in Kazakhstan and the Middle East.

KBR and FMC Technologies said in early May the Justice Department had contacted them with questions about Unaoil. Both said they were cooperating.

Police in Monaco raided Unaoil’s offices after the Fairfax Media / Huffington Post report appeared.

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Here’s the full June 14, 2016 statement from Unaoil:

Unaoil has instructed its lawyers to commence legal action against Fairfax Media and its partners in relation to the malicious and damaging allegations negligently published by these media organisations and repeated by other media organisations globally.

In the months following the publication of sensationalist allegations against Unaoil by Fairfax Media and its partners, Unaoil, its directors as well as its staff, have sustained unprecedented reputational and financial damage.

Unaoil estimates its damages to be over $100m and intends to hold Fairfax Media and its partners to account for their irresponsible and injurious reporting.

Unaoil is also filing a criminal complaint with law enforcement in Monaco in relation to the theft of company data and awaits the outcome of the investigation.

Since the exposure in the press of a criminal conspiracy to extort the company, Unaoil has continued to receive serious and personally threatening communications from persons seeking to unlawfully damage Unaoil and its operations.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He’ll be the keynote speaker at the FCPA Blog NYC Conference 2016.

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