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Brisbane man arrested, two international warrants issued in foreign bribery investigation

18 November 2020, 9:55am
Media Release

Brisbane man arrested, two international warrants issued in foreign bribery investigation

Editor’s Note: Stills of the Brisbane arrest located via Hightail

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has made one arrest, and issued a further two arrest warrants, following an intricate and long-running foreign bribery investigation.

A 54-year-old Brisbane man appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court today (18 Nov. 2020), while arrest warrants have been issued for two men residing overseas.

In November 2011, the AFP received a report from Australian-registered company Leighton Holdings Limited about alleged improper payments made by Singapore registered operating entity Leighton Offshore Pty Ltd, regarding two contracts with Iraq Crude Oil Export in 2010 and 2011.

Operation Trig commenced as a result of the information received from Leighton Holdings Limited.

The investigation revealed two contracts for the development and installation of onshore and offshore oil pipelines designed to increase the capacity of Iraq’s crude oil export.   

For Leighton Offshore Pty Ltd to be awarded the two contracts - which had a combined value of approximately USD 1.46 billion - approvals were required from the Iraqi Ministry of Oil and the South Oil Company of Iraq.

AFP investigators will allege that bribes were funnelled through entities associated with Iyer-associated companies and Unaoil to guarantee approvals for the Iraq Crude Oil Export contracts.

Police will allege the key targets of the bribery scheme were Iraqi Ministry of Oil officials and government officials within the South Oil Company of Iraq.

The investigation identified approximately USD 77.6 million in suspicious payments made via third party contractors.

AFP officers, working in close collaboration with international law enforcement, specifically the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office, the United States Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation, throughout the nine-year long investigation have:

  • seized more than two million documents related to the projects;
  • obtained evidence from 10 countries;
  • provided evidence to help foreign law enforcement partners secure guilty pleas to foreign bribery charges; and
  • obtained key witness statements that have allowed charges to be laid and put before the Court.

These efforts reflect the AFP’s and the International Foreign Bribery Taskforce’s ongoing commitment to global cooperation in the fight against corruption.

This week, the AFP issued arrest warrants for three men aged 54, 60 and 62.

The 54-year-old man was arrested today (18 Nov. 2020) at his residence in Brisbane and charged with two foreign bribery offences contrary to sections 70.2 and 11.5 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

He was also charged with allegedly engaging in conduct to falsify books linked to the corporation, and knowingly providing misleading information, contrary to sections 1307 (1) and 1309 (1) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

The man has been released on bail to appear at Sydney Central Local Court on 2 December 2020.

AFP Deputy Commissioner Investigations Ian McCartney said foreign bribery investigations required strong collaboration with international law enforcement partners to combat corruption on a global scale.

“Operation Trig investigators demonstrated outstanding resilience over the past nine years,” Deputy Commissioner McCartney said.

“They persevered through the painstaking process of piecing this jigsaw together from facts and allegations of alleged corruption that reached internationally, to a level that allowed us to bring this before the court in Australia.

“Their determination to ensure acts of alleged corruption are held to account is a testament to the dedication, skill and tenacious approach of AFP members, and the strength of our partnerships worldwide.”

 The AFP has not ruled out further arrests or charges, with investigations continuing. 

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