January 9, 2022

Former SBM executive appeals conviction after success of co-defendant’s appeal

On December 20, 2021, several media outlets have reported that former senior sales manager of Single Buoy Moorings Inc. (SBM) Paul Bond appealed his three-and-a-half year prison sentence following the recent success of his co-defendant Ziad Akle’s appeal in London.  After a jury failed to reach a verdict at his July 2020 trial, Bond was retried and convicted by a Southwark Crown Court jury on March 1, 2021 for two offenses of conspiracy to give corrupt payments in violation of section (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 and section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, in connection with the payment of more than $900,000 in bribes to Iraqi officials to secure contracts for SBM with the Iraqi Ministry of Oil and the state-owned South Oil Company.

In July 2020, Akle, a territory manager for Iraq employed by Unaoil, was convicted along with Stephen Whitely, a former Unaoil territory manager for Iraq and vice president of SBM Offshore, in connection with the Unaoil bribery scheme for which Akle was sentenced to five years in prison and Whitely received three years.  In July 2019 another co-conspirator, Basil al Jarah, a former country manager for Unaoil in Iraq, pleaded guilty and received a reduced sentenced of three years and four months after admitting that he paid more than $6 million in bribes to the Iraqi Ministry of Oil and the South Oil Company to secure oil infrastructure contracts for Unaoil, SMB Offshore and Leighton Offshore.

On December 10, 2021, the Court of Appeals for England and Wales (Criminal Division ) in London quashed Ziad Akle’s conviction after he appealed his conviction and sentence based on claims of abuse of process that included allegations that al Jarah’s guilty plea was not admissible into evidence.  Prior to trial, Akle challenged the admissibility of al Jarah’s guilty plea and requested specific disclosures from the Serious Fraud Office related to discussions with David Tinsley, a US-based private investigator who provided services to the three brothers that owned Unaoil and their attorney during the SFO’s bribery investigation.  At the time of the request, the SFO denied that it was in possession of any materials that supported Akle’s allegations.  However, as part of its decision to quash Akle’s conviction, the court stated that it was inappropriate for the SFO to have had any dealings with Tinsley regarding Akle and the al Jarah plea, and the court was satisfied that there was a material failure by the SFO to disclose documents that could have helped Akle’s defense related to evidence of al Jarah’s conviction.

England and Wales Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)