Ex-offshore sales boss jailed in Unaoil-linked bribery case
Paul Bond is fourth executive sentenced after investigation into Iraq oil contracts
A former sales manager of Dutch energy services company SBM Offshore was sentenced on Monday to three-and-a-half years in jail after being convicted of bribing public officials to win oil contracts in post-occupation Iraq.
Paul Bond, 68, was found guilty by a jury of two counts of bribery after a retrial at London's Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday.
Sentencing was delayed after the judge developed Covid-19 symptoms and self-isolated.
Mr Bond is the fourth executive convicted after a five-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into Monaco-based consultancy Unaoil. Bribes of more than $17 million to secure contracts worth $1.7 billion for Unaoil and its Western, blue-chip clients were uncovered. Mr Bond had denied wrongdoing.
Prosecutors said that Unaoil employees worked on behalf of SBM Offshore and with Bond to pay more than $900,000 in bribes to public officials at Iraq's South Oil Company and the Ministry of Oil to secure a $55m contract for offshore mooring buoys by skewing a competitive tender in their favour.
Basil Al Jarah, Unaoil's former Iraq partner, was last year sentenced to three years and four months in jail after pleading guilty to five bribery counts in 2019. Ziad Akle and Stephen Whiteley, Unaoil's former territory managers for Iraq, were sentenced to five and three years respectively.
The SFO investigation centred initially on the prominent Ahsani family, which ran Unaoil. Failed extradition attempts culminating in a clash in Italy with US prosecutors over the extradition of Saman Ahsani in 2018 scuppered SFO attempts to pursue prosecution in Britain.
In October 2019, Saman Ahsani and his brother Cyrus pleaded guilty in the US to being part of a 17-year scheme to pay millions of dollars in bribes to officials in the Middle East, Africa and central Asia. Their father and Unaoil founder Ata Ahsani has not been prosecuted.
SBM Offshore, which declined to comment, was fined $238m by the US Department of Justice in 2017 under a deferred prosecution agreement.
Published: March 1, 2021 07:42 PM