The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has charged two businessmen with corruption following a criminal investigation into alleged bribery involving Unaoil.
Ziad Akle, who lives in London, and Basil Al Jarah, from Hull, were charged with conspiracy to make corrupt payments to secure contracts in Iraq. The charges are the first to result from an investigation into alleged corruption by Unaoil, a Monaco-based oil and gas firm.
SFO investigators are also seeking the extradition of a third man, Saman Ahsani, from his home in Monaco to face similar allegations. He was Unaoil’s commercial director. .
The SFO announced it had started the investigation into Unaoil in March last year. It followed media reports based on hundreds of thousands of leaked internal emails and documents.
Al Jarah is charged with two offences of conspiracy to make corrupt payments, contrary to the Criminal Law Act 1977 and the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. Akle faces one charge of the same offence. Both will appear before Westminster magistrates on December 7.
According to the SFO, the charges concern alleged corrupt conduct within Unaoil between 2005 and 2011, relating to its client, the Dutch firm SBM Offshore.
As the investigation continues, we may learn more about the scale and nature of the alleged bribery. But regardless of what punishments Unaoil or its employees eventually receive, the case indicates both the dangers of bribery in high-risk business sectors such as energy and the need to manage those risks.
Read our article: MANAGING THE PROBLEM OF BRIBERY IN HIGH-RISK COUNTRIES