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Thursday
Feb272014

Oman Oil Company chief jailed 23 years in bribery case

A court in Oman sentenced the CEO of state-owned Oman Oil Company to 23 years in jail Thursday for taking $8 million in bribes from a senior official at a South Korean company.

Ahmad al-Wahaibi was also convicted by the Court of First Instance in Muscat of abusing his office and money laundering, Reuters reported

A former aide to the minister of the now-dissolved economy ministry was also convicted for organizing a bribe that was offered to al-Wahaibi by a senior official from a South Korea-based firm called LGI.

The former aide, Adel al-Raisi, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The LGI official, Myung Jao Yoo, was convicted of paying the $8 million bribe to a Caribbean-registered company owned by al-Wahaibi to secure a large-scale petrochemical project in Oman. He was also sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Al-Wahaibi admitted in court to receiving money from Myung. But he pleaded not guilty to the charge of taking bribes, saying he did not know why LGI transferred $8 million into his company. He admitted depositing the money into the accounts of his company and then giving the two other defendants their shares.

Al-Raisi pleaded not guilty. He said he was coerced to confess during interrogations, and only admitted brokering the deal and receiving the money under pressure.

Myung admitted receiving the money from al-Wahaibi. He said in court he didn't remember why, and "maybe it was a birthday gift."

Oman's Sultan Qaboos has waged an anti-graft campaign to defuse mass protests in several Omani cities that began in 2011.

Earlier this month, Oman's National Gas Company's chief executive, Goutam Sen, was detained by the public prosecutor over suspected bribery.

In November, the head of the tenders committee at Oman's state-run Petroleum Development Oman went on trial for taking a bribe from two local executives.

Oman Oil Company is a national oil investment company and an arm of the government of Oman.

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Julie DiMauro is the executive editor of FCPA Blog and can be reached here.