Brian Sims

SFO secures third set of Petrofac Limited bribery convictions

PETROFAC LIMITED has been ordered to pay £77 million after the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) secured further convictions in its investigation into bribery and corruption at the Jersey-registered energy services company.

On Friday 1 October, Petrofac Limited pleaded guilty to seven separate counts of failing to prevent bribery between 2011 and 2017.

Petrofac Limited admitted that it failed to prevent former senior executives of the Petrofac Group from paying £32 million in bribes to help the Petrofac Group win over £2.6 billion of contracts in the oil and gas industry in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Those presiding at Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how, over a period of six years, senior executives within the Petrofac Group engaged in elaborate schemes to corrupt the awarding of contracts, using agents to systematically bribe officials in order to win lucrative contracts by unfair and dishonest means.

A key feature of the case was the “complex and deliberately opaque” methods used by these senior executives to pay agents across borders, disguising payments through sub-contractors, creating fake contracts for fictitious services and, in some cases, passing bribes through more than one agent and one country to disguise their actions.

Pursuit of greed

Lisa Osofsky, director of the Serious Fraud Office, observed: “By pleading guilty, Petrofac Limited has accepted that senior executives within the Petrofac Group acted deliberately and without conscience in the pursuit of greed. The company’s failure to prevent this conduct distorted competitive market conditions and tainted the oil and gas industry.”

Osofsky continued: “This result should serve as a warning that the SFO will use all of the powers at its disposal to root out and prosecute companies and individuals whose criminal activity detrimentally affects the reputation and integrity of the United Kingdom.”

Further, Osofsky noted: “The SFO welcomes Petrofac Limited taking responsibility for its conduct.”

This is the third set of convictions secured by the SFO in its four-year investigation into cross-border corruption at the Petrofac Group. David Lufkin, former head of sales at Petrofac, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of bribery in 2019 and three counts of bribery in 2021.

Lufkin has been sentenced to a two-year custodial sentence, which was suspended for 18 months. In addition to pleading guilty, Lufkin co-operated with SFO investigators and assisted with the investigation.

The SFO continues to investigate this case.

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