Former Unaoil chiefs plead guilty to corruption charges

Two brothers who ran Monaco oil and gas consultancy Unaoil have admitted their role in 17-year multimillion-pound bribe scheme

Two brothers from a family that ran Monaco oil and gas consultancy Unaoil have pleaded guilty in the US to being part of a 17-year scheme to pay millions of pounds in bribes to officials in nine countries.

The US Department of Justice said on Wednesday that Cyrus Ahsani, 51, and his brother Saman, 46, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act on behalf of companies to secure oil and gas contracts.

They will be sentenced on April 20, 2020, the department said.

Steven Hunter, 50, a British resident and former business development director, also pleaded guilty in August to a count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.

The Ahsanis, who are British citizens, conspired with people and companies to bribe government officials in Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya and Syria from about 1999 to 2016, US prosecutors said.

Cyrus, the former Unaoil chief executive, and Saman, who was once chief operating officer, laundered the proceeds of their bribery scheme and destroyed evidence to obstruct investigations in the US and elsewhere, prosecutors said.

Hunter took part in the conspiracy by helping with bribes to Libyan officials between about 2009 and 2015.

The Ahsani brothers and Unaoil were not immediately available for comment.

The governments of Australia, Canada, France, Guernsey, Italy, Monaco, the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and Britain helped in the US investigation, the department said.

In July, Basil Al Jarah, who was Unaoil Group’s partner in Iraq, pleaded guilty to conspiring to make corrupt payments in connection with contracts to supply and install moorings and oil pipelines in southern Iraq.