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Brisbane executive facing bribery charges over $100m Iraqi oil scam

Business

A complex and long-running bribery investigation focusing on Iraqi oil contracts worth billions of dollars has led to charges against a 54-year-old Brisbane executive.

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Further charges are expected after CIMIC Group told the ASX this morning that more than one former employee was subject of charges and arrest warrants. Arrest warrants have been issued for two men residing overseas. The Brisbane man was named by the Sydney Morning Herald as Richard Waugh, a former managing director of Leighton Offshore.

Police will allege the key targets of the bribery scheme were Iraqi Ministry of Oil officials and government officials within the South Oil Company of Iraq, in a scheme known as the Unaoil Conspiracy that was exposed by reports in Fairfax newspapers in 2016.

The arrests came after two Monaco nationals agreed to testify in the case.

The investigation centres on two contracts for the development and installation of onshore and offshore oil pipelines designed to increase the capacity of Iraq’s crude oil export.

It identified $US77.6 million in suspicious payments made via third-party contractors.

The contracts had a combined value of $US1.46 billion and required approvals from the Iraqi Ministry of Oil and the South Oil Company of Iraq.

Australian Federal Police began Operation Trig after receiving a report about alleged improper payments made by Singapore registered company Leighton Offshore Pty Ltd regarding the contracts with Iraq Crude Oil Export in 2010 and 2011.

The report was received from Australian-registered company Leighton Holdings Ltd.

AFP investigators will allege Leighton Offshore Pty Ltd funnelled bribes through entities associated with Iyer-associated companies and Monaco-based company Unaoil to guarantee approvals for the Iraq Crude Oil Export contracts.

Arrest warrants were issued for three men aged 54, 60 and 62 this week.

The 54-year-old man, believed to be Waugh, was arrested on Wednesday at his home in Brisbane and charged with two foreign bribery offences and CIMIC, which now owns the company, confirmed that charges and arrest warrants had been laid against former employees. It said the alleged offences included two foreign bribery offences.

He was also charged with allegedly engaging in conduct to falsify books linked to the corporation, and knowingly providing misleading information.

The nine-year investigation involved the seizing of more than two million documents with evidence gathered from 10 countries.

It has provided evidence to help foreign law enforcement agencies secure guilty please to bribery charges.

AFP Deputy Commissioner Investigations Ian McCartney said foreign bribery investigations required strong collaboration with international law enforcement partners.

“Operation Trig investigators demonstrated outstanding resilience over the past nine years,” he said.

“They persevered through the painstaking process of piecing this jigsaw together from facts and allegations of alleged corruption that reached internationally, to a level that allowed us to bring this before the court in Australia.

The AFP has not ruled out further arrests or charges as the investigations continues.

-AAP

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