International oil companies under investigation for corruption?

AP/Fuel Fix:
Monaco’s government says it is helping British authorities investigate a “vast corruption scandal” implicating an unspecified number of international oil companies, the tiny European principality said in a statement released late Thursday.

The statement said several executives of the Monaco-based company UNAOIL had been questioned over the past few days and that their homes and headquarters had been searched following an urgent request from Britain’s Serious Fraud Office.

“These searches and interviews took place in the presence of British officials as part of a vast corruption scandal which implicates several foreign companies active in the oil sector,” the statement said. “Evidence will be used by British officials as part of their investigations.”

Few further details were made available and Monaco’s government said going into specifics might compromise the investigation. A UNAOIL spokeswoman said the company “has no comment at this time.” The Serious Fraud Office also declined comment.

UNAOIL was at the center of a multi-part expose published Wednesday by the Huffington Post and Australia’s Fairfax Media, which accuses the business of having “systematically corrupted the global oil industry” by delivering millions in bribes on behalf of well-known multinationals to secure contracts.

The company has denied the allegations. Asked by both publications whether UNAOIL paid bribes, the company’s Chief Executive Ata Ahsani was quoted as saying: “The answer is absolutely no.”

The publications alleged that a slew of global companies were linked to the scandal, including the offshore arm of Australian contract miner Leighton Holdings.

On Friday, the Australian Federal Police confirmed they were investigating allegations that Leighton employees were involved in the payment of bribes during two oil projects in Iraq in 2010 and 2011. The police agency declined to comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.

Leighton changed its name to CIMIC last year. Fiona Tyndall, a spokeswoman for CIMIC, said Friday that the company had no comment.
Apparently there was a big document leak which led to the investigation.  I suspect that none of the companies under investigation are publicly traded companies in the US because they would be required to disclose the bribes in their filings with the SEC.   The rules requiring the disclosure came after Stanley Sporkin  who was then head of enforcement notices during some of the Watergate proceedings that several companies were accused of providing bribes to get business yet they had not been disclosing the bribes in their SEC filings.

Some in the industry opposed the rule because they felt it gave a competitive advantage to foreign companies in dealing with corrupt officials.

Sporkin went on to become a Federal District Judge in DC.


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