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UK Fraud Office Probes Further Into Bribe-Implicated Unaoil

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) of the United Kingdom announced today that it would bring up criminal charges against Monaco-based Unaoil over alleged involvement in a major international bribery scandal.

“The SFO is conducting a criminal investigation into the activities of Unaoil, its officers, its employees and its agents in connection with suspected offences of bribery, corruption and money laundering,” according to an SFO statement cited by The Guardian.

“We have been approached by a number of sources who may have information relevant to this investigation. If you have any information please contact us through our secure and confidential reporting channel,” the statement concluded.

Unaoil did not provide an official response to The Guardian.

The SFO probe was launched last March shortly after journalists with The Huffington Post and Australia’s Fairfax Media revealed that Unaoil purportedly bribed officials in countries around the world including Iran, Syria, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

Among the multinational firms who used Unaoil’s services were Halliburton, KBR, Rolls-Royce, Samsung, and Petrofac.

In one example, Oilprice.com mentioned a prior report of Unaoil’s supposed wrongdoing that the president of a Canadian fracking company approached Unaoil for advice on how to approach a bribe in Libya:

“What we are curious about is to what type of Baksheesh [a common slang term for bribery] is needed to present to these men in order to get work started…Is this something that needs to be done after work hours one on one? An added value amount to the ticket for them, or a flat fee a month, we are not sure. What are your thoughts on this?”

The same law firm behind the Panama Papers, Mossack Fonseca, was said to help organize Unaoil’s subsidiaries in the British Virgin Islands. One document unearthed via the Panama Papers leak revealed that BP had signed a multimillion-dollar contract with Unaoil for the provision of engineering services at the Kirkuk oil field in northern Iraq.

Monegasque authorities in April launched a raid against Unaoil’s offices in the principality allegedly at the behest of the SFO though they declined to comment at the time.

By Erwin Cifuentes for Oilprice.com

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