UK: Jury Finds Unaoil’s ex Managers Guilty of Bribery
Two former managers of the Monaco-based energy consultancy Unaoil have bribed Iraqi authorities to secure favorable contracts in the war-torn country, a UK court established in a process that was marred by accusations against the head of the UK Serious Fraud Office of having been vulnerable to flattery from an Unaoil agent.
“A jury at Southwark Crown Court found Ziad Akle guilty on two counts and Stephen Whiteley guilty on one count of conspiracy to give corrupt payments,” the UK Serious Fraud Office, SFO, said in a statement on Monday. Their sentences are to be delivered next week.
Akle was Unaoil’s manager for Iraq's territory, while Whiteley was manager for Iraq, Kazakhstan and Angola.
They were found guilty of paying over US$500,000 in bribes to secure a $55 million contract to install offshore mooring buoys as part of the reconstruction of Iraq’s oil industry, read the statement.
The convictions came after their “co-conspirator Basil Al Jarah” a year ago pleaded guilty to five offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments totalling “over $6 million to secure contracts worth $800 million for the supply of oil pipelines and offshore mooring buoys,” according to the SFO.
“In the years of reconstruction following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the three men conspired with others to pay bribes to public officials at the Iraqi South Oil Company and, and in Basil Al Jarah’s case the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, to secure oil contracts for Unaoil and its clients,” read the statement.
SFO Director, Lisa Osofsky, said that the three “dishonestly and corruptly took advantage of a government reeling from dictatorship and occupation, and trying to reconstruct a war-torn state.”
However, Osofsky found herself embroiled in a related controversy when a judge criticized her for being vulnerable to “flattery” from US investigators who tried to secure milder sentences for the suspects.
The SFO said it will investigate the accusation. The private detective was hired by Unaoil owners after corruption investigations were launched against the company in the US and the UK.