Monaco refuses Unaoil exec's extradition to UK to face corruption charges

26 March 2018 00:00

A former Unaoil executive can't be extradited to the UK to face corruption charges, Monaco has said.

A court official has confirmed to MLex that the state's ruler, Prince Albert II, has rejected a request by UK fraud prosecutors to extradite Saman Ahsani, Unaoil's former commercial director, following an "adverse opinion" from Monaco's Court of Appeal. The ruling can't be appealed, a court official confirmed.

The allegations against Ahsani were not liable for criminal prosecution under Monaco's laws at the time they were alleged to have occurred, the official added.

The decision was made on Feb. 28, but hasn't been made public until now.

In November last year, the Serious Fraud Office charged Unaoil’s former territory manager for Iraq, Ziad Akle, and the company's Iraq partner Basil Al Jarah, with corruption offenses as part of a sprawling investigation into the Monaco-based oil-services business and a host of companies that worked with it.

The SFO announced at the time that it was also seeking the extradition of Ahsani from Monaco, where he resides, "on related charges". He hasn't been charged with any offense.

In January, Akle and Al Jarah appeared at Southwark Crown Court in London alongside Paul Bond and Stephen Whiteley, who are charged with conspiracy to make corrupt payments to secure the award of contracts in Iraq to Unaoil’s client SBM Offshore. They didn't enter pleas.

Whiteley is a former vice president and Bond a senior sales manager with SBM Offshore.

The four defendants have been told they will face trial in April 2019.

The SFO opened a criminal probe into Unaoil, employees and agents connected to it, to investigate suspected bribery, corruption and money-laundering offenses in July last year. The prosecutor's probe is ongoing.

The SFO, Unaoil, and Saman Ahsani's lawyer declined to comment.

The SFO has previously had problems extraditing suspects to the UK. Last month four former Deutsche Bank traders weren't extradited from Germany to the UK to face fraud charges, following a Frankfurt court ruling. The SFO had charged the former traders with fraud over allegedly manipulating the Euro Interbank Offered Rate.

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