January 31, 2023

Former Unaoil COO sentenced to 12 months in prison for role in international bribery scheme

On January 30, 2023, Saman Ahsani, the former chief operating officer for Monaco-based Unaoil Group, was sentenced in a US federal court to 12 months and 1 day in prison and 1 year of supervised release after pleading guilty in 2019 to charges related to his role in an international bribery scheme.  Saman Ahsani must also forfeit $1.5 million.

In October 2019, Saman Ahsani and Cyrus Allen Ahsani, Unaoil’s former chief executive officer and Saman’s brother, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), money laundering, and obstruction of justice.  According to the criminal information, Saman and Cyrus Ahsani facilitated millions of dollars’ worth of bribe payments around the world in an effort to secure contracts for Unaoil and at least 25 of its client companies.  The bribes were allegedly paid between 1999 and 2016 to officials in various countries, including Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya, and Syria.  Cyrus Allen Ahsani is currently scheduled to be sentenced on August 21, 2023.

The UK also prosecuted several co-conspirators who participated in Unaoil’s bribery scheme in Iraq, including former sales manager of Single Buoy Moorings Inc. (“SBM”) Paul Bond who was sentenced in 2021 to 3.5 years in prison after he was convicted of two offenses of conspiracy to give corrupt payments.  Other co-conspirators convicted in the UK for their roles in the Iraq bribery scheme are former Unaoil territory manager and vice president of SBM Offshore, Stephen Whiteley, who was sentenced to 3 years in prison in 2020; former Unaoil territory manager Ziad Akle, who received 5 years in prison in 2020; and Unaoil’s former Iraq country manager Basil Al Jarah, who was sentenced to 3 years and four months in prison in 2020.

Docket Minute Entry| Saman Ahsani Order |Cyrus Ahsani Sentencing Order | Information