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Thursday
Nov302017

SFO charges former SBM execs for Iraq bribes

The UK Serious Fraud Office charged two former executives of Dutch oil services firm SBM Offshore NV for allegedly funneling bribes to officials in Iraq through intermediary Unaoil.

Paul Bond and Stephen Whiteley were both charged with conspiracy to make corrupt payments to secure contracts in Iraq for Unaoil’s client SBM Offshore.

Bond, 65, was formerly a Senior Sales Manager with SBM Offshore. He lives in France.

Whiteley, 62, was formerly a Vice President with SBM Offshore. He was also Unaoil’s General Territories Manager for Iraq, Kazakhstan, and Angola. He lives in Aberdeen, Scotland.

The alleged bribery occurred between June 2005 and August 2011, the SFO said.

Whiteley and Bond are scheduled to appear in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on December 7.

In the United States, SBM Offshore agreed Wednesday to pay a criminal penalty of $238 million to resolve FCPA offenses in Brazil, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, and Iraq.

And earlier this month, two former SBM executives pleaded guilty in the U.S. federal court to bribing officials at Brazil’s Petrobras and two state-owned energy firms in Africa.

Anthony Mace, 65, a UK citizen, was SBM’s chief executive officer from 2008 to 2011 and a former board member of SBM USA. He pleaded guilty in federal court in Houston to one count of conspiring to violate the FCPA.

Robert Zubiate, 66, pleaded guilty to the same charge. He was based in California and served as the sales and marketing director for SBM USA.

They haven't been sentenced yet.

In the UK two weeks ago, the Serious Fraud Office charged two other men for their alleged roles in the Unaoil - SBM bribery case.

Ziad Akle and Basil Al Jarah were both accused of conspiracy to pay bribes to help Unaoil’s client SBM Offshore  win contracts in Iraq.

Netherlands-based SBM provides floating production systems for the oil and gas industry.

Akle, 42, was Unaoil’s territory manager for Iraq. He lives in London

Al Jarah, 68, was Unaoil’s "Iraq partner," the SFO said. He lives in Hull (England).

They're also scheduled to appear in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court (London) on December 7.

A third man, Saman Ahsani, is "subject to an extradition request to Monaco on related charges," the SFO said. Ahsani, 43, was Unaoil’s commercial director. He lives in Monaco.

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.

Monaco-based Unaoil has denied the allegations.

The SFO said Thursday its investigation is ongoing.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.