Australian police arrest man over Iraqi officials bribes worth $78 million

Australian police have arrested Russell Waugh, former Leighton Offshore Pty Ltd managing director, for bribing Iraqi officials in the amount of $ 78 million to secure lucrative Iraqi oil contracts.

Police claim his company paid bribes through contractors including Unaoil – a Monaco-based firm which last year had two former senior executives plead guilty to being part of a scheme to bribe foreign government officials in several countries including Azerbaijan, Syria and Iraq. Agence France-Presse reports.

– The offshore company was based in Singapore but there was a range of complex subsidiary companies that this money flowed through to disguise some of the payments into Iraq, – deputy commissioner Ian McCartney said.

Investigators believe the payments were used to secure contracts for the construction of onshore and offshore oil pipelines worth approximately $ 1.5 billion.

– The key targets of the bribery scheme were Iraqi Ministry of Oil officials and government officials within the South Oil Company of Iraq, – Australian Federal Police said in a statement.

The investigation began following reports of alleged improper payments made by Singapore-registered company Leighton Offshore Pty Ltd regarding the contracts with Iraq Crude Oil Export in 2010 and 2011.

Police said the nine-year investigation, which involved US and British authorities, was a «painstaking process» of putting together a worldwide jigsaw of «alleged corruption».

The investigation involved the seizing of more than two million documents, with evidence gathered from 10 countries.

Police also announced they had issued two further arrest warrants for men living abroad in Europe and Asia.