March 18, 2021

SFO closes investigation into KBR UK subsidiaries

The UK Serious Fraud Office announced on March 18, 2019 that it had closed its investigation into the UK subsidiaries of KBR, Inc., a Texas-based engineering, procurement and construction company, because the evidence did not meet the requirements for prosecution under the Code for Crown Prosecutors. No charges were brought against the companies, their officers, employees or agents.

The investigation, first disclosed in April 2017, was directed at activities connected with Unaoil, a Monaco-based oil and gas consultancy implicated in bribery schemes in post-war Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.  As a result of the SFO’s broader Unaoil investigation, four individuals were convicted of bribery offenses and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 3 to 5 years. 

In February 2021, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the SFO could not use section 2(3) of the Criminal Justice Act 1987 to compel foreign companies to provide materials held outside of the UK, limiting the SFO’s access to documents held by KBR, Inc., the US parent company of  KBR Ltd., the UK company on which the investigation was focused. The inability to access materials held extraterritorially appears to have informed the SFO’s decision to close its investigation.

In the US, a Department of Justice investigation into KBR’s involvement in Unaoil-related bribery was closed in August 2020.

SFO news release