Unaoil Fallout: SFO Confirms Investigation Of Petrofac

Risks Of Hidden Oil Re-export And Oil Products To Third States Observed In Kazakhstan

London-based Petrofac is under investigation for suspected bribery, corruption and money laundering, the UK Serious Fraud Office said Friday.

The probe is “related to the ongoing investigation into the activities of Unaoil,” the SFO said.

Petrofac, an oil and gas services firm, has about 13,500 employees. Revenues last year were $7.8 billion.

“The SFO confirms that it is investigating the activities of Petrofac PLC, its subsidiaries, and their officers, employees and agents,” the agency said in a statement.

In July last year, the SFO opened a criminal investigation of Monaco-based Unaoil for suspected bribery.

A report in March 2016 by Fairfax Media and the Huffington Post said Unaoil paid bribes on behalf of large companies in the oil and gas sector.

HuffPo said its story was based on leaked internal Unaoil documents.

The SFO said last year it had “been approached by a number of sources who may have information relevant to this investigation.”

Unaoil has denied the allegations of corruption.

Petrofac said in a statement released Friday that the Serious Fraud Office has notified the company about the investigation.

“The Company believes that this is in connection with the investigation into Unaoil,” Petrofac said.

The statement also said,

As previously disclosed, Petrofac engaged Unaoil, a Monaco based company, for the provision of local consultancy services primarily in Kazakhstan between 2002 and 2009. The Company is cooperating with the authorities. Ayman Asfari, Chief Executive Officer, and Marwan Chedid, Chief Operating Officer, have been questioned under caution by the SFO.

According to FCPA Tracker, other companies that have disclosed Unaoil-related investigations are ABB Ltd, Core Laboratories N.V., FMC Technologies, Inc., KBR, Inc., SBM Offshore N.V., and TechnipFMC plc.

Unaoil is a Monaco based company run by the Ahsani family founded in 1991. According to Unaoil, it provides “industrial solutions to the energy sector in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.” Unaoil is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven with an opaque banking system.

by Richard L. Cassin, the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog

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