Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 October 2019

Former Unaoil executive pleads guilty to corruption charges

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office undertakes one of its biggest bribery investigations

The sun sets behind an oil pump outside Saint-Fiacre, near Paris, France March 28, 2019. Reuters
The sun sets behind an oil pump outside Saint-Fiacre, near Paris, France March 28, 2019. Reuters

A former oil executive pleaded guilty to five counts of corruption in the UK as part of one of the white-collar financial crime prosecutor’s biggest bribery investigations.

Basil Al Jarah, who was oil services company Unaoil Group’s partner in Iraq, pleaded guilty to conspiring to make corrupt payments in connection with contracts to supply and install moorings and oil pipelines in southern Iraq, Britain’s Serious Fraud Office said in a statement.

Mr Al Jarah entered the plea on July 15, but the court only permitted it to be reported on Friday.

Three other former executives have been charged in connection with the case, which the SFO started investigating in March 2016. They are due to go on trial in January.

Ziad Akle, Unaoil’s former territory manager for Iraq and Stephen Whiteley and Paul Bond, who worked for Dutch-based oil and gas services company SBM, have pleaded not guilty and face a London jury in January.

Mr Akle, 44, has been charged with three offences of conspiracy to make corrupt payments. Bond, a 67-year-old former senior sales manager with SBM, and Mr Whiteley, a 64-year-old former vice president of SBM and Unaoil’s general territories manager for Iraq, Kazakhstan and Angola, each face two counts.

Reporting restrictions were lifted in a pre-trial court hearing on Friday. In a statement on their website, Unaoil said it “vigorously denied” the allegations.

Updated: July 19, 2019 05:55 PM

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