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Thomas Fox Contributing Editor

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Bill Waite Contributing Editor

Shruti J. Shah Contributing Editor

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Richard Bistrong Contributing Editor 

Eric Carlson Contributing Editor

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Tuesday
Jul192016

SFO announces Unaoil investigation

The UK Serious Fraud Office said Tuesday it is "conducting a criminal investigation into the activities of Unaoil, its officers, its employees and its agents in connection with suspected offenses of bribery, corruption and money laundering."

A report in late March by Fairfax Media and the Huffington Post said Monaco-based 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 Tuesday it has "been approached by a number of sources who may have information relevant to this investigation." 

The SFO opened its investigation in March 2016 but didn't announced it until Tuesday. The agency said it couldn't comment further "at this time."

Unaoil has denied the allegations of corruption.

In June, Unaoil said it would take legal action against Fairfax Media and its partners for "malicious and damaging allegations negligently published" by them.

Unaoil also said it would file a criminal complaint with law enforcement in Monaco for the theft of company data.

Police in Monaco raided Unaoil's offices after the Fairfax Media / Huffington Post report appeared.

The report named about a dozen companies as "beneficiaries of Unaoil’s network in the Middle East."

The leaked Unaoil documents, according to HuffPo, mentioned Core Laboratories, FMC Technologies, Rolls-Royce, and Weatherford.

Also named were Saipem, MAN Turbo, SBM Offshore, ABB, Cameron/Natco, Leighton Offshore, and Petrofac.

KBR and FMC Technologies said in early May the Justice Department had contacted them with questions about Unaoil. Both said they were cooperating.

UK-based Petrofac said in April it launched an investigation into allegations of bribery to win contracts in Kazakhstan and the Middle East.

The SFO Tuesday posted a link to its "secure and confidential reporting channel" for anyone with information about Unaoil.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He'll be the keynote speaker at the FCPA Blog NYC Conference 2016.