Australia: Former Australian executive arrested, charged over alleged oil bribery plot

Australia’s longest-running bribery investigation came to a head on Wednesday with the arrest in Queensland of a former senior executive from construction giant Leighton Holdings over his alleged involvement in a $1 billion international graft scandal.

The charging of Russell Waugh comes after two Monaco-based brothers turned police supergrasses and agreed to testify in Australia.

Mr Waugh is the first of at least three top Australian executives to face charges in connection to the Unaoil conspiracy, which involved bribes paid to ministers and officials in oil producing nations around the world, and which has already led to the jailing or guilty pleas of executives in Europe and the US. There is no suggestion Mr Waugh is guilty, only that he is facing two counts of conspiracy to bribe Iraqi officials.

Australian Federal Police deputy commissioner Ian McCartney said the charges were part of a “hugely significant” investigation that had taken nine years and involved unpicking “a really complex jigsaw puzzle” of intermediary companies in 10 countries.

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