The UK Serious Fraud Office said Thursday it charged two men in connection with its investigation of Unaoil.
Ziad Akle and Basil Al Jarah were both accused of conspiracy to pay bribes to help Unaoil’s client SBM Offshore NV win contracts in Iraq.
Netherlands-based SBM provides floating production systems for the oil and gas industry.
The alleged bribery happened between June 2005 and August 2011, the SFO said.
Akle, 42, was Unaoil’s territory manager for Iraq. He lives in London
Al Jarah, 68, was Unaoil’s “Iraq partner,” the SFO said. He lives in Hull (England).
Both are scheduled to appear in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court (London) on December 7.
A third man, Saman Ahsani, is “subject to an extradition request to Monaco on related charges,” the SFO said. Ahsani, 43, was Unaoil’s commercial director. He lives in Monaco.
In the United States last week, two former executives of SBM Offshore pleaded guilty to bribing officials at Brazil’s Petrobras and two state-owned energy firms in Africa.
In a company release this month, SBM Offshore said it reserved $238 million for a possible FCPA settlement with the DOJ. The release said the DOJ investigation involves Monaco-based Unaoil and “legacy issues.”
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.
HuffPo said its story was based on leaked internal Unaoil documents.
Unaoil has denied the allegations.
Police in Monaco raided Unaoil’s offices after the Fairfax Media / Huffington Post report appeared. The report named about a dozen companies as “beneficiaries of Unaoil’s network in the Middle East.”
The leaked Unaoil documents, according to HuffPo, mentioned SBM Offshore, Rolls-Royce, and Petrofac, among others.
In May, UK-based Petrofac suspended its chief operating officer during the corruption investigation.
On November 7 this year, the DOJ unsealed FCPA charges against three Rolls-Royce executives and two agents. They were charged for a bribery plot to win an equipment contract on a gas pipeline from Kazakhstan to China. The three company executives and one of the agents pleaded guilty. The other agent is a fugitive.
In January this year, Rolls Royce plc paid about $800 million in a global resolution of corruption allegations. The settlement involved the DOJ, the SFO, and Brazil prosecutors.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.