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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Petrofac hires top lawyer as fraud probe continues

Edward Sparrow will be responsible for the company’s management of and response to the investigation

Petrofac developed phase one of the BP-operated Khazzan field, which came online in September. Petrofac
Petrofac developed phase one of the BP-operated Khazzan field, which came online in September. Petrofac

Petrofac has hired a top litigator to oversee the Serious Fraud Office’s (SFO) investigation into the Unaoil corruption scandal.

Edward Sparrow, a partner at law firm Ashurst with 20 years of running major litigation cases, will be responsible for the company’s management of and response to the investigation.

The SFO announced in May that it would investigate allegations that the company used Unaoil to secure consultancy contracts worth $2bn in Kazakhstan between 2002 and 2009.

Petrofac, a London-listed oil services firm with operations in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, is being investigated for suspected bribery, corruption and money laundering. The company’s activities, subsidiaries, their officers, employees and agents are all under scrutiny.

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Monaco-based Unaoil became the subject of investigations in March 2016. Unaoil denies the allegations that it paid bribes on behalf of oil companies.

Petrofac chief executive Ayman Asfari and chief operating officer Marwan Chedid have been questioned. They were released without charge but Mr Chedid has subsequently been suspended.

Petrofac has previously said that ​it has not identified any evidence of wrongdoing but takes any allegations of activities that may contravene its strict anti-bribery and corruptions standards very seriously. The company says it is co-operating with the authorities.

Petrofac today announced it will establish a new compliance and ethics committee. It will be tasked with monitoring the effectiveness of company policies which relate to issues including bribery and corruption.

Shares in the oilfield company have lost more than 50pc of their value since October last year, when they were trading at 952.5p. On Wednesday, they were worth around 463p.

Towards the end of July, Petrofac announced a new contract and the extension of an existing agreement to provide construction management, engineering, commissioning and start-up services for two International Oil Companies (IOCs) in Iraq, with a combined value of more than US100 million.