Fourth oil executive sentenced for paying bribes to win a multi-million pound contract in post-occupation Iraq
1 March, 2021 | Case Updates
Paul Bond has today been sentenced to three and half years’ imprisonment for conspiring with others to bribe Iraqi public officials to secure lucrative oil contracts in post-occupation Iraq.
Earlier this week, Bond, a former senior sales manager at SBM Offshore (SBM), was found guilty on two counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments following a retrial of his case at Southwark Crown Court.
This was the fourth conviction the SFO secured in its wide-scale Unaoil bribery investigation, which uncovered the payment of over $17m worth of bribes to secure $1.7bn worth of contracts for Unaoil and its clients.
In 2007, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil set out a ‘master plan’ to rebuild Iraq’s oil infrastructure, which had been destroyed after years of conflict. The post-occupation government tasked the state-owned South Oil Company (SOC) to commission the construction of new oil pipelines and the installation of single offshore mooring buoys (SPMs) in the Persian Gulf.
Together with Unaoil employees, Paul Bond funnelled $900,000 in bribes to Iraqi public officials at the SOC and the Ministry of Oil, which bought access to sensitive information, allowing Bond and others to skew the tendering process in SBM’s favour. SBM went on to win a $55m contract for the provision of SPMs.
Lisa Osofsky, Director of the Serious Fraud Office, said:
“Bond and his co-conspirators manipulated the tendering process for an infrastructure project vital to Iraq’s developing economy, with no regard for the impact.
The string of convictions in this case demonstrate the SFO’s determination to root out and prosecute corrupt practices in all corners of the globe working with law enforcement partners across the world. ”
Bond’s conviction follows that of former Unaoil territory managers Stephen Whiteley and Ziad Akle, who were last year found guilty of conspiring to bribe Iraqi public officials to secure substantial oil contracts. In July 2019, Basil Al Jarah, Unaoil’s former Iraq partner, pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments, and later asked for a number of additional offences to be taken into consideration, in total admitting to paying over $17m in bribes to secure contracts worth $1.7bn.
Ziad Akle was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, Stephen Whiteley to three years’ imprisonment, and Basil Al Jarah to three years and four months’ imprisonment for their crimes.
The SFO would like to thank the Australian Federal Police, the French Parquet National Financier, the Police Judiciaires of the Principality of Monaco, the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) of the Netherlands, the United States Department of Justice, Greater Manchester Police, the Metropolitan Police, the National Crime Agency and West Mercia Constabulary for their valuable assistance in this case.
Notes to editors
- Paul Bond (15/06/1952), former Senior Sales Manager at SBM, has been convicted of two offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments, contrary to section (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 and contrary to section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. Bond was sentenced to three and half years’ imprisonment on each count, to be served concurrently.
- On 19 June 2020, Ziad Akle (02/03/1975), who was Unaoil’s territory manager for Iraq, was found guilty of two offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments, contrary to section (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 and contrary to section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. On 26 June 2020 Stephen Whiteley (04/07/1955), former Vice President at SBM and Unaoil’s territory manager for Iraq, was convicted of one offence of conspiracy to give corrupt payments, contrary to section (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 and contrary to section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. They were sentenced to five years’ and three years’ imprisonment, respectively, in July 2020. See the press release here for more information.
- On 19 July 2019, Basil Al Jarah (01/06/49), who was Unaoil’s Iraq partner, pleaded guilty to five offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments, contrary to section (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 and contrary to section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. On 8 October 2020, he was sentenced to three years and four months’ imprisonment for paying in excess of $17m in bribes to dishonestly secure approximately $1.7bn worth of contracts in post-occupation Iraq, after asking for five further offences to be taken into consideration in his sentencing.
- Counsel for the prosecution: Michael Brompton QC, Gillian Jones QC, Faras Baloch, Thomas Daniel
- Counsel for the defence: Howard Godfrey QC, Joseph Barry, Robert Fitt
- The judge is HHJ Beddoe.
- The SFO opened its investigation on 22 March 2016 and Paul Bond was originally tried alongside Ziad Akle and Stephen Whiteley on 20 January 2020. The trial was adjourned on 17 March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but resumed at the Old Bailey before the jury on 13 May following social distancing guidelines. The jury at this trial returned guilty verdicts against Akle and Whiteley but were unable to reach a verdict on Bond.
- More information can be found here.