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Petrofac suspends COO during bribe probe

Oilfield services firm Petrofac said Thursday it suspended its chief operating officer Marwan Chedid during a corruption investigation.

The UK Serious Fraud Office confirmed last week it is investigating Petrofac over allegations of “bribery, corruption and money laundering” related to Unaoil.

Petrofac said the SFO arrested Chedid and CEO Ayman Asfari and released both without charges.

Chedid is now suspended “until further notice” and has resigned from the board, Petrofac said.

CEO Asfari will continue in his role. But he “will not be involved in any matters connected to the investigation, and will have no role or responsibilities for engaging with or liaising with agents and consultants,” according to the company.

Petrofac Chairman Rijnhard van Tets said Thursday: “These decisions signal the board’s determination to co-operate fully with the SFO and its investigation, while ensuring Petrofac continues to deliver for its clients.”

London-based Petrofac has about 13,500 employees. Revenues last year were $7.8 billion.

In July last year, the SFO opened a criminal investigation of Monaco-based Unaoil for suspected bribery.

A report in March 2016 by Fairfax Media and the Huffington Post said Unaoil paid bribes on behalf of large companies in the oil and gas sector.

Petrofac said in an earlier statement that it engaged Unaoil “for the provision of local consultancy services primarily in Kazakhstan between 2002 and 2009.”

Unaoil has denied allegations of corruption.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.

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