Two former managers of Monaco-based energy consultancy Unaoil have been convicted in Britain of bribing Iraqi officials to clinch lucrative oil projects as the war-ravaged country tried to boost exports after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
A London jury found British-Lebanese Ziad Akle, Unaoil’s former Iraq territory manager, and Stephen Whiteley, a British former manager for Iraq, Kazakhstan and Angola, guilty after a marathon 19 days of deliberations.
But the jury was not able to reach a verdict in the case against Paul Bond, a British one-time Middle East sales manager for Dutch-based oil and gas services company SBM Offshore (SBMO.AS). The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said on Monday it would pursue a retrial.
All three men had denied any wrongdoing.
The long-awaited decision prompted the judge to lift reporting restrictions on the verdicts after an unprecedented trial that was suspended in March — as the coronavirus brought parts of the criminal justice system to a halt — and restarted in May in a new court to allow jurors to socially distance.
“These men dishonestly and corruptly took advantage of a government reeling from dictatorship and occupation, and trying to reconstruct a war-torn state,” said SFO head Lisa Osofsky.
“They abused the system to cut out competitors and line their own pockets.”