International review Investigation

SFO charges SBM executives in Unaoil corruption scandal


This material belongs to: The Telegraph.

The Serious Fraud Office has charged a pair of oil executives at services group SBM Offshore with fraud as its probe into the Unaoil corruption scandal rolls on.

The SFO’s latest charges are against Paul Bond and Stephen Whiteley for conspiracy to make corrupt payments to the controversial Monaco-based “middleman” to secure engineering contracts.

The pair will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court next Thursday morning.

The SFO said Mr Bond faces two charges of corruption while Mr Whiteley faces one, all of which stem from allegedly corrupt dealings with Unaoil between June 2005 and August 2011.

Mr Whiteley was formerly a vice president with SBM (Offshore) and Unaoil’s general territories manager for Iraq, Kazakhstan and Angola, the SFO added, with Mr Bond previously a senior sales manager with SBM.

The charges come just weeks after the SFO made its first charges against UK-based Unaoil employees Ziad Akle and Basil Al Jarah for their role in the SBM corruption. Unaoil’s commercial director, Monaco-based Saman Ahsani, will also be charged subject to an extradition request to Monaco.

The SFO began its probe into Unaoil in March 2016 amid allegations that the company had been acting as a “middleman” in fixing lucrative service contracts for a fee. The scandal has embroiled a number of companies including Petrofac, Aberdeen-based Wood Group and its takeover target Amec Foster-Wheeler.

A spokesman for the Dutch services company, SBM, declined to comment.

Meanwhile, the group’s US arm agreed to pay $238m (£176m) in criminal penalties for the role SBM played bribing foreign officials in Brazil, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan and Iraq.

The group admitted to paying more than $180m in commissions to intermediaries, knowing that some of the money would go toward bribing foreign officials so SBM could obtain or retain business with the government-owned oil companies.

Under the terms of its deal with the US Department of Justice, prosecution will be deferred by three years.