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Two former managers of Unaoil found guilty of bribery

By Elizabeth Hearst 

A London jury has found two former Unaoil Group managers guilty in an elaborate scheme to pay bribes in order to secure lucrative contracts in Iraq. 

According to the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) , former Iraq territory manager, Ziad Akle was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments.

After 19 days deliberation, the jury also found Stephen Whiteley, former vice president of Dutch oil company SBM Offshore NV and Unaoil territory manager for Iraq guilty of one count of conspiracy to give corrupt payments, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

As reported by Reuters, the jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case of former sales manager for the Dutch oil company, Paul Bond. The SFO have declared they will seek a retrial. 

It is alleged that Arkle and Whiteley paid more than $500,000 to public officials in Iraq in order to obtain an enormous $55 million contract for offshore mooring buoys for Unaoil and SBM Offshore. 

Lisa Ofosky, head of the SFO said, “These men dishonestly and corruptly took advantage of a government reeling from dictatorship and occupation, and trying to reconstruct a war-torn state… They abused the system to cut out competitors and line their own pockets.”

The trial comes after Unaoil Iraq partner Basil al jarah was found guilty on five charges on similar charges after it was alleged that Mr. al Jarah and others paid out almost $6 Million in bribes in an attempt to secure up to $800 Million contracts. 

The men will be sentenced next week, according to the SFO. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, a spokeswoman for SBM said that “extensive remedial actions” had been taken at the company. 

Paula Blengino, spokeswoman for SBM said, “SMB Offshore is committed to complying with all applicable laws and regulations. The company fundamentally changed by improving its ways of working, strengthening its policies and controls and changing the business model to operate in an open and transparent manner.”