Friday, April 9, 2021

UK convicts another executive in Unaoil bribery case

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A defendant in a long-running U.K. bribery case has been found guilty of conspiring to make illegal payments to public officials in Iraq to secure contracts, the U.K.’s agency that prosecutes white-collar crimes said Wednesday.

Paul Bond, a former sales manager at Dutch oil company SBM Offshore NV, was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments after a retrial of his case at the Southwark Crown Court, U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office said. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday.

Joseph Kotrie-Monson, a lawyer at Mary Monson Solicitors representing Mr. Bond, declined to comment. A representative for SBM didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Mr. Bond’s conviction is the latest in the SFO’s criminal case involving Monaco-based oil-services company Unaoil Group. The agency launched the probe in 2016.

Prosecutors said four individuals charged in the case paid more than $17 million in bribes to secure contracts that would benefit Unaoil and its clients, which included SBM. The contracts, related to projects to construct oil pipelines and offshore mooring buoys in Iraq, were worth about $1.7 billion in total, the SFO said.

Prosecutors said Unaoil employees, working with Mr. Bond directly, paid more than $900,000 in bribes to Iraqi public officials to win a $55 million contract for SBM to commission offshore mooring buoys.

A Unaoil representative declined to comment.

Two former Unaoil territory managers involved in the case, Stephen Whiteley and Ziad Akle, were sentenced in July to prison time after being convicted of conspiracy to give corrupt payments.

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Basil al Jarah, a former Iraq partner for Unaoil, was sentenced in October to three years and four months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy charges.

Lawyers for Messrs. Whiteley, Akle and al Jarah didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Attorneys for Messrs. Whiteley and Akle previously said the men planned to appeal their convictions.

Mr. Bond was originally tried alongside Messrs. Akle and Whiteley in early 2020. The previous jury was unable to reach a verdict on Mr. Bond, the SFO said.

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