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Unaoil fallout: Petrofac exec admits sprawling Middle East bribe scheme

The former global head of sales for Petrofac International Limited pleaded guilty Wednesday to UK Bribery Act violations related to over $50 million in bribes involving projects in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. 

David Lufkin, 51, a British national, pleaded guilty in a UK court to eleven counts of bribery under sections 1(1) and 1(2) of the Bribery Act 2010. 

The Serious Fraud Office said Lufkin paid bribes to win contracts for Petrofac worth $730 million in Iraq and $3.5 billion in Saudi Arabia.

The SFO opened its investigation into London-based Petrofac in May 2017. The investigation was “related to the ongoing investigation into the activities of Unaoil,” the agency said.

According to the SFO’s statement Thursday, Petrofac paid agents $4 million in 2012 to win oil and gas-related contracts in Iraq. 

In Saudi Arabia, Petrofac paid agents $45 million between July 2012 and November 2015, the SFO said. 

Petrofac also made more bribe offers to its agents in both Saudi Arabia and Iraq, but the offers were rejected. 

Lufkin’s sentencing date hasn’t been set.

The SFO said Thursday its “investigation into Petrofac’s use of agents in multiple jurisdictions, including Iraq and Saudi Arabia, is ongoing.”

In June 2017, the SFO charged Monaco-based Unaoil with paying bribes in Iraq to help companies win energy-related contracts.

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Richard L. Cassin is editor at large of the FCPA Blog.

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