Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 October 2020

Second former Unaoil executive jailed over Iraq contract bribe

Stephen Whiteley was part of plot to pay bribes to win a multi-million-dollar oil infrastructure contract

Unaoil executives bribed Iraqi officials to secure oil-related contracts after the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Reuters
Unaoil executives bribed Iraqi officials to secure oil-related contracts after the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Reuters

A second former executive of Monaco-based consultancy Unaoil has been jailed in the UK for his role in a multi-million-dollar bribery plot to secure oil infrastructure contracts in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Stephen Whiteley, 65, was jailed for three years on Thursday after being found guilty by a jury of paying bribes of more than $500,000 (Dh1.8 million) to secure a $55 million contract to build offshore moorings in the Arabian Gulf to allow tankers to load oil.

Whiteley, a former Unaoil territory manager for Iraq, and fellow ex-executive Ziad Akle, who was jailed for five years last week, said they plan to appeal against their convictions.

Unaoil acted as the middle-man for well-known companies vying for lucrative work after the chaos of the US-led war

“The flagrant greed and callous criminality exhibited by these men undermines the reputation and integrity of British business on the international stage,” said Lisa Osofsky, the head of the Serious Fraud Office, which investigated the case for four years. “We will not cease in our mission to bring such people to justice.”

A third Unaoil executive, Basil Al Jarah, pleaded guilty last year to paying bribes of more than $6m and will be sentenced in October.

British brothers Cyrus and Saman Ahsani who ran Unaoil struck a deal with prosecutors in the US where they last year admitted conspiring with companies to make corrupt payments of millions of dollars over 17 years from 1999 to government officials in nine countries.

Updated: July 31, 2020 03:19 PM

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