Second man arrested in foreign bribery investigation

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has arrested a second man in relation to a long-running foreign bribery investigation.

A 60-year-old man is expected to appear in Sydney Central Local Court today (Monday, 11 January) via video link after being arrested following his exit from hotel quarantine in Sydney this morning.

The man arrived back in Australia on 27 December 2020 from France and immediately entered hotel quarantine.

He has been charged with two counts of knowingly providing misleading information contrary to sections 1309 (1) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

The arrest follows the November 2020 court appearance of a 54-year-old Brisbane man arrested and charged with two foreign bribery offences as a result of the intricate nine-year investigation.

The AFP investigation began in November 2011 following the receipt of a report from Australian-registered company Leighton Holdings Limited about alleged improper payments made by Singapore registered operating entity Leighton Offshore Pty Ltd, regarding two contracts with Iraq Crude Oil Export in 2010 and 2011.

Operation Trig commenced as a result of the information received from Leighton Holdings Limited.

The investigation revealed two contracts for the development and installation of onshore and offshore oil pipelines designed to increase the capacity of Iraq’s crude oil export.

For Leighton Offshore Pty Ltd to be awarded the two contracts – which had a combined value of approximately USD 1.46 billion – approvals were required from the Iraqi Ministry of Oil and the South Oil Company of Iraq.

AFP investigators will allege Leighton Offshore Pty Ltd funnelled bribes through entities associated with Iyer-associated companies and Unaoil to guarantee approvals for the Iraq Crude Oil Export contracts.

Police will allege the key targets of the bribery scheme were Iraqi Ministry of Oil officials and government officials within the South Oil Company of Iraq.

The investigation identified approximately USD 77.6 million in suspicious payments made via third party contractors.

AFP officers, working in close collaboration with international law enforcement, specifically the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office, the United States Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation, throughout the nine-year long investigation have:

  • seized more than two million documents related to the projects;
  • obtained evidence from 10 countries;
  • provided evidence to help foreign law enforcement partners secure guilty pleas to foreign bribery charges; and
  • obtained key witness statements that have allowed charges to be laid and put before the Court.

These efforts reflect the AFP’s and the International Foreign Bribery Taskforce’s ongoing commitment to global cooperation in the fight against corruption.

In November 2020 the AFP issued an arrest warrant for a third man, aged 62.

The AFP has not ruled out further arrests or charges, with investigations continuing.

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