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Report: Leighton Holdings internal emails discuss huge Iraq bribes

Internal emails leaked from Australia's Leighton Holdings warn that a $24 million “facilitation payment” linked to a 2010 Iraq contract would “attract attention” from auditors.

Other emails talk about plans by senior employees to make payments to “friends” in the ­Middle East and to inflate and backdate contracts to win work in Iraq, the Financial Review reported Monday.

The emails include communications between two top Leighton executives, who describe a “disgusting history of incompetence and misbehavior” and improper “rewards, special bonuses, travel rorts [allowances]” in its overseas operations.

Other emails say top Iraqi oil ministry officials were told that one of their colleagues was known to have taken $27 million from Leighton.

In late 2010, Leighton's acting chief executive David Stewart penned a handwritten memo that was leaked to the press.

It "described how another top executive, David Savage, allegedly told Stewart huge oil pipeline contracts had been won by Leighton in Iraq by paying ­multimillion-dollar bribes, and more kickbacks needed to be paid," the Fianncial Review said.

Some of the newly leaked emails were written after Stewart wrote the memo.

Sources told the Financial Review that the Australian Federal Police investigating the bribery ­allegations "are finalizing a brief of ­evidence to present to prosecutors."

The alleged bribes may were paid between 2007 and 2012.

In April 2011, two senior Leighton Offshore managers discussed “a real sticky” plan to disguise improper payments by ­artificially inflating the costs of ­providing security, accommodation and other services in Iraq, the Financial Review said.

Another leaked file reveals Leighton Offshore made large ­payments to three separate companies owned by a middleman, businessman Ramjee Iyer, who had told Leighton he had ­connections with Iraqi ­officials. These payments are each listed as “for friend”.

Leighton and former executives are also under investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission for possible corruption in connection with contracting work in India.

An April 2011 email between two ­senior Leighton Holdings executives described  “the India mess” as “just another one [chapter] in a disgusting history of incompetence and misbehavior” in Leighton’s ­overseas operations, the Financial Review said.

Leighton has operations in Australia, South East Asia, New Zealand, Vietnam, China, and the Middle East. It operates in the oil and gas, mining, and resource sectors, providing engineering and construction.

It is active in the telecommunications, engineering and infrastructure, building and property, mining and resources, and environmental services industries.

This year, Germany-based Hochtief acquired a controlling interest in Leighton.

Many of the figures involved in the company’s dealings now under investigation have left, the Financial Review said.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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