SFO to question Petrofac execs as probe deepens

The Serious Fraud Office is expected to deepen its corruption probe into Petrofac by questioning more members of its top management in connection with the Unaoil scandal.

The SFO swooped on Petrofac in May last year, arresting the oil service company’s chief executive Ayman Asfari and chief operating officer Marwan Chedid who were questioned under caution before being released without charge.

The FTSE 250 group warned investors that other senior members of the board were expected to be questioned under caution as part of the investigation, causing shares to slump by 3.5pc to 506p.

In a statement to the market Petrofac said that directors and other employees at the firm would be interviewed by the SFO either under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act or under caution.

“No further comment will be made on the basis that this may prejudice an ongoing investigation,” the company said.

The investigation into allegations that Petrofac secured lucrative service contracts worth $2bn in Kazakhstan between 2002 and 2009 via a corrupt Monaco-based middleman, Unaoil, has already wiped billions from its market value.

Petrofac has denied any wrongdoing in connection to the Unaoil scandal, which has engulfed many other firms within the global oil services industry, but its share price is still almost half what it was prior to the investigation, when its shares traded just below 920p.

The latest blow to Petrofac emerged after a rare glimmer of good news for the firm’s embattled chief executive, who was embroiled in a separate legal row over alleged insider trading in Italy.

The UK courts sided with Mr Asfari last month by ruling that he was not served notice of the charges levelled against him by the Italian authorities.

The High Court ruling backs Mr Asfari’s claim that the shock sanctions placed on him last summer by the Italian authorities did not follow due process, meaning he was unable to defend himself against the charges before they were imposed.

Mr Asfari has denied any wrongdoing and is appealing the charges.

The Telegraph | Monday, 5 February, 2018
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/02/05/sfo-question-petrofac-execs-probe-deepens/