Unaoil probe and bribery trial saga of former executives holds uncomfortable lessons for UK’s Serious Fraud Office

Introduction

Date: 21 July 2020. Duration: 19:32

Last week saw the conclusion, after six months, of the London trial of former Unaoil executives on charges of bribery to secure contracts in Iraq. The UK’s white-collar crime agency, the Serious Fraud Office, secured two convictions to add to an earlier guilty plea by another former employee of the oil-sector consultancy: a respectable result. But it was a rare bright spot for the SFO after a series of poor showings at trial, and its investigations and runup to trial were shown to have been fraught with problems — including a fracas with US counterparts and alarming exchanges of messages between the agency’s head and a representative of the Ahsani family, Unaoil’s owners.

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