Petrofac executive admits bribery to secure contracts

Briton David Lufkin admitted 11 charges related to three contracts worth more than $4 billion

A former executive at oil services company Petrofac has pleaded guilty to bribery in connection with payments to secure contracts worth more than $4 billion in Middle Eastern countries.

Briton David Lufkin, 51, ex-global head of sales for Petrofac International Ltd, admitted 11 counts of bribery following payments made by Petrofac of more than $50 million.

He was accused of acting with a number of other Petrofac employees including Marwan Chedid, the group’s former chief operating officer. Announcing its results last year, the company said that Mr Chedid was leaving to “pursue other interests”.

The payments influenced the award of contracts to Petrofac worth more than $730 million in one country and more than $3.5 billion in another, said the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) which is investigating the case. Lufkin will be sentenced at a later date.

The SFO said that its investigation into Petrofac’s use of agents in jurisdictions including these two countries was continuing.

The agency started its inquiry in 2017 as part of a wider investigation into Monaco-based oil and gas consultancy Unaoil. Petrofac said last year that it expected its senior management to be interviewed as part of the SFO investigation.

News of the guilty pleas triggered a near 30 per cent fall on Thursday in the shares of the London-listed oil and gas company.

Petrofac said that no current board member of Petrofac Ltd is alleged to have been involved, the company said in a statement.

“The SFO has chosen to bring charges against a former employee of a subsidiary company,” the company’s chairman René Médori said in a statement.

“It has deliberately not chosen to charge any group company or any other officer or employee. In the absence of any charge or credible evidence, Petrofac intends as a matter of policy to stand by its employees.”

Petrofac, which has 12,750 employees, operates out of seven operational centres.