One of four individuals charged in the UK as part of the corruption investigation into Unaoil pleaded guilty this week to conspiracy to pay bribes.
Basil Al Jarah, 70, described by prosecutors as “Unaoil’s former partner in Iraq,” pleaded guilty to five charges in Southwark Crown Court in London on July 15. The court unsealed his plea Friday.
The Serious Fraud Office said the charges against Al Jarah were connected to contracts to build oil-handling facilities and pipelines in southern Iraq.
The SFO has also charged Ziad Akle, Paul Bond, and Stephen Whiteley with conspiracy to make corrupt payments. Their trial is scheduled to begin in January 2020 in London.
Akle, 44, was Unaoil’s territory manager for Iraq.
Bond, 67, was a senior sales manager with SBM Offshore.
And Whiteley, 64, was a vice president of SBM Offshore and also served as Unaoil’s general manager for Iraq, Kazakhstan and Angola.
Netherlands-based SBM Offshore provides floating production systems for the oil and gas industry.
In the United States, SBM Offshore paid a criminal penalty of $238 million in late 2017 to resolve FCPA offenses in Brazil, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, and Iraq.
Two former SBM executives pleaded guilty in the U.S. to bribing officials at Brazil’s Petrobras and two state-owned energy firms in Africa.
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The SFO opened its investigation into Unaoil in March 2016.
A report that month from Fairfax Media and the Huffington Post said Unaoil paid bribes on behalf of large companies in the oil and gas sector.
According to an SFO release in June 2018, “Unaoil Ltd has been summonsed with two offenses of conspiracy to give corrupt payments” related to two oil pipelines in southern Iraq.
Monaco-based Unaoil has denied the allegations of corruption.
Richard L. Cassin is editor at large of the FCPA Blog.
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