United Kingdom: Oil firm led by Tory donor investigated over alleged bribes in nine countries

A multinational oil firm that was led by a major Conservative donor has been under investigation for allegedly paying million-pound bribes to secure contracts in nine countries.

The anti-corruption agency the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has been examining allegedly suspicious payments made by the UK-based firm Petrofac.

The firm was headed by Ayman Asfari, who with his wife has donated almost £800,000 to the Conservative party in their personal capacity.

Details of the alleged payments, going back to the early 2000s, indicate that the SFO’s investigation has been wider than previously known publicly. The inquiry, which started at least four years ago, continues.

The SFO has been examining alleged payments made by Petrofac over more than 15 years to land contracts in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, including Kuwait and Algeria.

Other alleged payments that have been scrutinised by the SFO are connected to contracts awarded to Petrofac in Iran, Syria, Bahrain, and Kazakhstan, according to documents and sources with knowledge of the investigation.

The SFO’s investigation has secured a guilty plea from a senior former executive, David Lufkin. He has admitted working with Petrofac employees to offer or pay bribes totalling $80m (£57m) to win contracts worth a total of $7.5bn in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.

Lufkin, who has yet to be sentenced, is due to appear in a London court on Monday.

Petrofac has also come under scrutiny over the support it has been given by the government. The Guardian has previously revealed that David Cameron after he had left Downing Street, lobbied the Bahraini royal family to persuade them to award a $5bn oil contract to Petrofac in 2017.

The original full article can be found at theguardian.com

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