November 22, 2020

Australian Federal Police arrest former construction executive in connection with Unaoil-related bribery scheme

On November 18, 2020, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) arrested Russel Waugh, a former executive at Leighton Holdings (Leighton), an Australian multinational construction and civil engineering company, in connection with the alleged bribery of Iraqi officials.  According to the AFP’s press release, in 2010 and 2011 a Singapore-based Leighton subsidiary paid approximately $77.6 million in bribes through Unaoil and other intermediaries to officials in the Iraqi Ministry of Oil and the South Oil Company of Iraq, in exchange for receiving approvals connected to two contracts with Iraq Crude Oil Export.  The contracts, which were for the installation of onshore and offshore pipelines designed to increase Iraq’s crude oil exports, were worth approximately $1.46 billion.
Although Waugh’s specific conduct was not disclosed, the AFP charged him with two foreign bribery offenses, with falsifying the company’s books, and with knowingly providing misleading information.  The AFP also issued warrants for two other individuals, who are “residing overseas,” although their names were not disclosed.
International investigations into Unaoil-related bribery schemes remain ongoing, and this latest arrest comes several months after convictions by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office against two former Unaoil executives in July 2020 (and a third in July 2019), for paying millions of dollars in bribes to secure lucrative oil contracts for Unaoil and others.  Previously, in March 2019, Unaoil’s CEO and COO pled guilty in the United States to charges of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, in connection with a scheme to pay millions of dollars in bribes to officials in multiple countries between 1999 and 2016.

AFP Press Release