Two days ago we brought you excerpts from a Huffington Post investigative report on Unaoil, a previously obscure Monaco company that allegedly functions as a kind of Bribery Incorporated for state actors looking to curry favor with the world’s oil exporters.
A treasure trove comprising “hundreds of thousands” of leaked e-mails and documents led Huff Post and Fairfax Media to publish an expose on the “jet-setting Ahsani clan” which apparently has links to nearly every producing country on the planet and knows just which palms to grease when Western governments need to make inroads. "They rub shoulders with royalty, party in style, mock anti-corruption agencies and operate a secret network of fixers and middlemen throughout the world’s oil producing nations," Huff Post wrote, on the way to documenting the Ahsani family's connections to Bashar al-Assad, Muammar Gaddafi, and the regime in Tehran, among other governments.
Pictured below are Ata Ahsani and his two sons, Cyrus and Saman. Apparently, the family is worth more than $200 million which Huff Post reckons makes them part of the "global elite." The shady family business has been certified by anti-corruption agency Trace International which the Post rightly says "raises serious questions about the worth of such international accreditation."
On Friday, we learn that the Ahsanis' homes as well as Unaoil's offices have been raided by authorities at the request of Britain's Serious Fraud Office. "Authorities in Monaco have raided the headquarters of an oil company, as well as the homes of some of its bosses, as part of a British-led investigation into a corruption scandal implicating businesses all over the world," The Guardian writes. "In a statement released on Thursday, it said that the Monaco-based firm Unaoil was at the center of the inquiry and that officials had acted after an urgent request for assistance from the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO)." Related: Saudi Policy Tied to Weak Economy
“These searches and interviews were carried out in the presence of British officials as part of a vast, international corruption scandal implicating numerous foreign oil industry firms," Monaco said in a statement. "The information collected is going to be examined by the British authorities as part of their investigation."
The company's executives were interrogated interviewed earlier in the week, but the SFO isn't ready to say whether or not they're "interested" in the investigation. “We are aware of the allegations but can neither confirm nor deny our interest in the matter," a statement reads. "Due to recent developments it would be inappropriate for the company to comment at this time," a Unaoil spokesman remarked.
British police are reportedly working with authorities in Australia as well as the US DoJ and FBI to investigate Huff Post and Fairfax's claims. Related: Oil Falls As Saudi Arabia Questions Freeze Deal
The problem, of course, is that this is essentially a case where governments will be investigating themselves. While the original investigative report implicates "Western companies" - i.e. multinational energy conglomerates - it seems like a foregone conclusion that this was a two-way street when it came to dealing with state actors. That is, if the Ahsanis were dealing with governments in oil producing countries they were probably working with Western officials as well and may function as a back channel in all manner of clandestine dealings. Perhaps police "accidentally" destroyed a document or two while ransacking the offices.
"[The company creates] political instability, turns citizens against their own governments, and fueled the rage that would erupt during the Arab Spring – and be exploited by terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL)," Huff Post claims.
More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:
- Forget The Tough Talk – Saudi Arabia Is Desperate For A Production Freeze
- India’s SPR Ambitions Could Help Soak Up The Oil Glut
- Impatient Banks: A Real Red Flag For The Oil Patch