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Harry Cassin
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SFO joins bribery probe of Amec Foster Wheeler

The UK Serious Fraud Office has now joined the DOJ and SEC in an investigation of possible overseas bribery by London-based Amec Foster Wheeler plc.

The company said in an SEC filing Tuesday the investigation “focuses on the past use of third parties and possible bribery and corruption and related offenses,” according to FCPA Tracker.

The SFO also confirmed the investigation in its own release Tuesday.

The release said,

The Director of the Serious Fraud Office has opened an investigation into the activities of Amec Foster Wheeler plc and any predecessor companies owning or controlling the Foster Wheeler business, together with the activities of any subsidiaries, company officers, employees, agents and any other person associated with any of these companies for suspected offences of bribery, corruption and related offenses.

Amec Foster Wheeler, an oil and gas services firm, said the SFO’s investigation isn’t expected to impact the proposed acquisition of the company by John Wood Group.

The £2.2 billion takeover is supposed to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

In April this year, Amec Foster Wheeler said in an SEC filing that it received “voluntary requests” for information from the SEC and DOJ regarding its use of agents, “primarily in the Middle East . . . “

In May, Scotland-based John Wood Group (JWG) said it launched an internal investigation into its dealings with Unaoil.

In a prospectus for its proposed takeover of Amec Foster Wheeler, JWG said the SFO had also requested information from Amec Foster Wheeler about its relationship with Unaoil.

The SFO hadn’t commented about Amec until Tuesday’s release.

The SFO opened a bribery investigation last year into Monaco-based Unaoil.

Eight companies have now disclosed investigations related to Unaoil, according to FCPA Tracker.

Amec Foster Wheeler didn’t mention Unaoil in its disclosure Tuesday or in earlier disclosures.

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.

Amec Foster Wheeler said Tuesday it “takes its obligation to conduct business ethically very seriously and has in place a robust global anti-bribery program, including a detailed code of conduct and anti-bribery and corruption policies.”

“Amec Foster Wheeler continues fully to co-operate with and assist the SFO,” the company said.


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

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