UK

Fourth Oil Firm Executive Jailed in UK for Bribery in Post-Invasion Iraq

Paul Bond is the fourth man to be convicted in connection with Monaco-based consultancy Unaoil, which allegedly paid millions in bribes to secure contacts worth a total of $1.7 billion for a raft of prestigious Western firms.

A London court has sentenced an oil company executive to three-and-a-half years in jail for his role in a $17 million bribery scandal in post-invasion Iraq.

Paul Bond, the 68-year-old former sales manager of Dutch firm SBM Offshore was found guilty of two counts of bribery at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday. His sentencing delayed until Monday after the judge was forced to self-isolate with COVID-19 symptoms. 

He was the fourth person to be convicted in the five-year Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into another firm, Monaco-based consultancy Unaoil, which represented an impressive portfolio of prominent Western engineering companies.

Unaoil is accused of paying $17 million (£12 million) in bribes to secure contracts worth $1.7 billion (£1.2 billion) to rebuild Iraq’s oil industry following the 2003 US-led invasion. Beneficiaries included Rolls Royce, Halliburton-KBR, Petrofac, ABB, Leighton Holdings and Amec Foster Wheeler.

“Bond and his co-conspirators manipulated the tendering process for an infrastructure project vital to Iraq’s developing economy, with no regard for the impact,” SFO Director Lisa Osofsky said. “The string of convictions in this case demonstrate the SFO’s determination to root out and prosecute corrupt practices in all corners of the globe working with law enforcement partners across the world.”

Iraqi security forces try to reopen Umm Qasr port

Former Unaoil territory managers Stephen Whiteley and Ziad Akle were convicted last year and handed sentences of three and five years respectively. In 2019, Unaoil’s former Iraq partner Basil Al Jarah pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments and sentenced to three years and four months.

The SFO had initially focussed its probe on the Iranian-emigre Ahsani family that controls Unaoil, but switched targets after US prosecutors blocked the extradition of Saman Ahsani in 2018.

Saman and his brother Cyrus pleaded guilty to charges in the US, but their father and Unaoil founder Ata Ahsani has not been prosecuted.

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