Petrofac Hires Top Lawyer As SFO Probe Continues
Petrofac has hired a top lawyer to oversee the Serious Fraud Office’s ongoing investigation into the Unaoil corruption scandal.
Edward Sparrow, one of the best-known litigators in the City, will be responsible for the company’s “management of, and response to, the investigation”, Petrofac said on Wednesday.
Mr Sparrow, who is a partner at law firm Ashurst, has more than 20 years’ experience running major litigation cases.
The SFO announced in May that it would investigate allegations that Petrofac used scandal-hit Unaoil as a middleman to secure consultancy contracts worth $2bn in Kazakhstan between 2002 and 2009.
The fraud office said it is investigating the activities of Petrofac, its subsidiaries, and their officers, employees and agents for suspected bribery, corruption and money laundering.
It has questioned chief executive Ayman Asfari and chief operating officer Marwan Chedid as part of the ongoing probe. They were released without charge but Mr Chedid has since been suspended.
Monaco-based Unaoil became the subject of investigations in March 2016 amid allegations that it had paid bribes on behalf of oil companies. Unaoil denies the allegations.
Petrofac has previously said that it has not identified any evidence of wrongdoing but takes any allegations of activities that may contravene its strict anti-bribery and corruptions standards very seriously and is co-operating with the authorities.
Petrofac also said today that it would establish a new compliance and ethics committee which will monitor the effectiveness of various company policies which relate to issues such as bribery and corruption, and risk.
The committee will comprise three non-executive directors: George Pierson as committee chairman, Andrea Abt and Matthias Bichsel.
Shares in the oilfield company have lost more than 50pc of their valuesince October last year, when they were trading at 952.5p. On Wednesday, they were worth around 463p.