Monaco-based firm Unaoil is at the centre of British-led investigation into corruption implicating oil companies all over the world
Authorities in Monaco have raided the headquarters of an oil company, as well as the homes of some of its bosses, as part of a British-led investigation into a corruption scandal implicating businesses all over the world, the principality’s government has said.
In a statement released on Thursday, it said that the Monaco-based firm Unaoil was at the centre of the inquiry and that officials had acted after an urgent request for assistance from the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
“These searches and interviews were carried out in the presence of British officials as part of a vast, international corruption scandal implicating numerous foreign oil industry firms. The information collected is going to be examined by the British authorities as part of their investigation,” the statement said.
The Monacan authorities said they acted in accordance with European convention on mutual assistance in criminal matters and the UN convention against transnational organised crime.
An SFO spokesperson said: “We are aware of the allegations but can neither confirm nor deny our interest in the matter.” A Unaoil spokesperson said: “Due to recent developments it would be inappropriate for the company to comment at this time.”
Unaoil was at the centre of allegations published by the Huffington Post and Australia’s Fairfax Media on Wednesday. They said the business “systematically corrupted the global oil industry” by delivering millions in bribes on behalf of well-known multinationals to secure contracts.
The company has denied the allegations. Asked by both publications whether Unaoil paid bribes, the company’s chief executive, Ata Ahsani, was quoted as saying: “The answer is absolutely no.”
The publications said they drew on information gleaned from hundreds of thousands of internal emails between 2002 and 2012 for their six-month investigation.
Fairfax, which described the trove as “the biggest leak of confidential files in the history of the oil industry,” said the files held evidence of bribes paid to Middle Eastern oil chiefs and other officials.
Fairfax said Unaoil did not challenge of the authenticity of the documents involved and instead sent a letter through its lawyers demanding that Fairfax wipe the material from its servers.