Brian Sims

SFO recovers circa £600,000 from accounts of former Petrofac ‘fixer’

THE SERIOUS Fraud Office (SFO) has recovered £567,466.53 from personal bank accounts linked to a former ‘fixer’ for the Petrofac Group. The three bank accounts – all linked to Basim Al Shaikh (now deceased) – were identified and then frozen by the SFO on 3 February last year on suspicion of containing the proceeds of crime.

Al Shaikh worked as an agent for Petrofac’s business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and paid bribes to secure contracts for the Petrofac Group. He used two UAE companies, namely Gulf Development Marine Services and Northern Coast Construction Materials, to launder these bribes.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court granted three account Forfeiture Orders on Thursday 28 April 2022 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and confirmed this money could be recovered by the SFO on behalf of the Government.

Emma Luxton, head of proceeds of crime and international assistance at the SFO, said: “Proceeds of crime should never be left in the wrong hands or used for private benefit. The money we identified was paid as bribes, so it’s right that we’ve tracked this money down and taken action to ensure that it’s recovered despite the fact the individual responsible could not be prosecuted.”

The Petrofac Group is an oil and gas services company. In October last year, Petrofac Limited pleaded guilty to failing to prevent former senior executives of the Petrofac Group from using agents to bribe officials in order to win oil contracts in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Petrofac Limited’s conviction and sentencing in October 2021 brought to a conclusion the SFO’s investigation as far as the corporate entity (and its subsidiaries) is concerned. The investigation process into the conduct of individual suspects continues.

‘Operation Steamroller’

In tandem, the SFO will be returning over £1 million to more than 200 victims following one of the largest boiler room frauds ever pursued by a UK authority.

The SFO’s seven-year investigation, codenamed ‘Operation Steamroller’, led to the successful prosecution of Australian national and mastermind of the fraud, Jeffrey Revell-Reade, in 2014. He was sentenced to nine years and six months in prison and handed a total confiscation order of approximately £7.5 million.

Since 2016, the SFO has been relentlessly pursuing the enforcement of Revell-Reade’s confiscation order, attempting to recoup his illicit gains in order to compensate his victims. Over £3 million has already been returned to the circa 200 victims. With the assistance of international partners in Spain, the SFO has now succeeded in securing new compensation funds via the settlement of a luxury penthouse apartment in the Costa del Sol.

Between 2003 and 2007, UK investors were conned out of around £70 million under a boiler room scheme masterminded by Revell-Reade. The scheme saw sales entities – operating from Madrid – pressure-sell shares in US-listed companies. Investors bought the shares, the sale of which was restricted for 12 months, and when they came to sell they then found their shares to be worthless as they belonged to either shell companies or otherwise companies that were not operating at all.

Emma Luxton concluded: “This result demonstrates our tenacity and commitment to ensuring victims receive the justice and compensation they deserve, no matter the complexity of the investigation or how many years have passed by since the crime was committed.”

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