US firms on call to advise after new SFO Unaoil charges

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Brown Rudnick and White & Case have been drafted in to defend new charges brought against two key figures in the Serious Fraud Office (SFO)’s Unaoil investigation.

Unaoil Iraq partner Basil Al Jarah and Unaoil Iraq territory manager Ziad Akle have both been charged with conspiracy over alleged corrupt payments in order to secure a $733m (£544.5m) contract allowing Leighton Contractors Singapore PTE Ltd to construct a pair of oil pipelines in Southern Iraq.

Unaoil is a Monaco-based oil conglomerate with a particular focus on the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.

Alongside Al Jarah and Akle, Dutch oil product manufacturer SBM Offshore senior sales manager Paul Bond and former SBM vice president and Unaoil general territories manager for Iraq, Kazahstan and Angola Stephen Whiteley have also been charged for their alleged roles in the contract’s award.

Al Jarah has called on Brown Rudnick partner Mark Beardsworth to defend him, while White & Case partner Joanna Dimmock is advising Akle. The pair will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court tomorrow (23 May), though Bond and Whiteley are yet to confirm their representation.

All four will appear before Southwark Crown Court on 25 July.

The allegations against the four men are thought to have taken place between June 2005 and August 2011.

The SFO’s probe into the conduct at Unaoil began in July 2016 with the company accused of acting like a “middle man” to attain lucrative service contracts.

A separate investigation into the conduct of FTSE 250 oil and gas company Petrofac is tied to the Unaoil investigation.

Petrofac engaged with Unaoil for “local consultancy services” over a seven-year period from 2002.

Petrofac chief executive officer Ayman Asfari and chief operating officer Marwan Chedid are being questioned under caution by the SFO.

While these investigations continue, the SFO is still searching for its new director following the departure of David Green who is thought to be in talks with Slaughter and May.

Chief operating officer Mark Thompson is acting as interim director, though former FBI deputy general counsel Lisa Osofosky is understand to be close to taking the role full-time.

The post US firms on call to advise after new SFO Unaoil charges appeared first on The Lawyer | Legal insight, benchmarking data and jobs.



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