Thursday, December 9, 2021

Former Unaoil exec ordered to pay £100,000 for role in Iraq bribery scheme

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A former Unaoil senior executive has been ordered to pay back almost £100,000.

Stephen Whiteley was sentenced to three years in prison in 2020 after he was found guilty of paying around £400,000 in bribes to win a lucrative oil and gas contract in Iraq.

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An investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into the proceeds of Whiteley’s crimes secured a court order to recover £95,864.79 from him.

Whiteley must now repay the sum in full within 28 days.

The former territory manager for Unaoil was found guilty in July 2020 of paying bribes to win a $55m contract for Unaoil to supply offshore mooring buoys in Iraq.

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The SFO secured the convictions against Whiteley and three other senior oil executives in an investigation which uncovered schemes to pay a total of $17m bribes to win $1.7bn in contracts for Unaoil in Iraq.

This latest recovery means the SFO’s confiscation of illicit gains since 2017 stands at well more than £1.2bn.

Emma Luxton, head of proceeds of crime and international assistance at the SFO, said: “The SFO relentlessly pursues those who line their own pockets with illicit gains and we have a proud record of recovering funds for victims and for the UK taxpayer.”

Last month, the SFO announced that Petrofac had been ordered to pay £77m after it admitted failing to prevent senior executives systematically paying £32m in bribes to win over £2.6bn in oil and gas contracts in the Middle East.

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It was the third set of convictions in the case of David Lufkin, former head of sales at Petrofac, who pleaded guilty to 11 counts of bribery in 2019 and three counts of bribery in 2021. The SFO’s Petrofac investigation originated from its investigation into Unaoil.

The SFO’s Proceeds of Crime Division continues to investigate the criminal gains of the convicted Unaoil executives.

Sam Healey, Partner at JMW Solicitors, who represented Stephen Whiteley, said: “Following productive negotiations with the Serious Fraud Office ahead of today’s hearing, Mr Whiteley must pay a total sum of £95,864.79 within 28 days.

“The Confiscation Order now brings the case to a close, and, having endured four extremely difficult years, I’ve no doubt that Stephen will be keen to put the matter behind him and begin to rebuild his life.”

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