Petrofac Suspends COO During Bribery Probe

Petrofac, a UK based Oilfield services firm, was recently being investigated by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) prompted by suspicion of bribery, corruption, and money laundering related to Unaoil, an industrial solutions company based in Monaco. This past Thursday, Marwan Chedid, Petrofac’s chief operating officer, was suspended “until further notice” and has also resigned from the Petrofac board.

The CEO of Petrofac and largest shareholder with an 18.2 per cent stake, Ayman Asfari, was arrested, but later released without charges. Mr. Asfari will continue as the firm’s CEO, however, the company said he will have no connection to the investigation process.

When the company disclosed that both the chief executive and chief operating officers were interviewed as suspects, Petrofac’s share prices dropped drastically. Since May 12, the share price fell from around 800 to 450 (Thomson Reuters Datastream).

The investigation of Petrofac in relation to Unaoil has opened new probes into a myriad of companies, such as “the UK units of Swiss engineering company ABB and the UK subsidiaries of KBR, the New York-listed engineering and construction company that was once part of US oilfield services giant Halliburton.”

The former Vice President of Petrofac, Peter Warner, asked that payments were to be made confidentially through a bank account in, Pacific tax haven, the Marshall Islands.

There were similar payments apparently made by Unaoil to maintain oil contracts in middle eastern countries including Kazakhstan, Kuwait and Iraq. Eventually, Warner resigned Petrofac and began working for Unaoil in 2014.

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