Fmr Unaoil Exec Jailed for Iraq Bribery

Ziad Akle, Unaoil's territory manager for Iraq, has been sentenced to five years' imprisonment for paying over $500,000 in bribes to secure a $55m contract to supply offshore mooring buoys.

The new buoys formed part of the post-occupation Iraqi government's "Master Plan" to rebuild Iraq's oil industry and thereby expand the country's oil export capacity. To ensure Unaoil benefitted from these state-run projects, Akle, conspiring with Stephen Whiteley and others, bribed public officials at the South Oil Company to secure contracts for Unaoil and its clients.

In his sentencing, HHJ Beddoe said:

"The offences were committed across borders at a time of serious need for the government of Iraq to rebuild after years of sanctions and the devastation of war. They were utterly exploitative at a time when the economic and political situation in Iraq was extremely fragile."

A jury at Southwark Crown Court found Akle guilty on two counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments. Another individual, Stephen Whiteley, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to give corrupt payments in relation to the same crime. He will be sentenced on a date to be determined.

SFO Director Lisa Osofsky said:

"Ziad Akle and his co-conspirators exploited a country reeling from years of dictatorship and military occupation to line his own pockets and win business. It is this combination of greed and heartless avarice that led to these convictions.

"Today's sentencing sends a clear message that the United Kingdom and the SFO will not tolerate criminal activity that undermines the fairness and integrity of international business."

The convictions followed the guilty pleas of co-conspirator Basil Al Jarah who, in July 2019, admitted five offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments. Al Jarah, who admitted to paying bribes totalling over $6million to secure contracts worth $800m for the supply of oil pipelines and offshore mooring buoys, is due to be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on 8 October 2020.

(Source: SFO)

Webinar: Opportunities and Challenges for Diversification in Iraq

Iraq Business News would like to recommend an excellent and informative webinar from the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC)'s Young Executives Network (YEN), featuring a discussion with Ali Al-Saffar, the Middle East and North Africa Program Manager at the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris.

Ali shared his insights on "The importance of oil and gas to Iraq's economy and the opportunities for and challenges to diversification".

Also on the panel were Mr Sammy Sharifi, Co-Chair of IBBC YEN, and Ms Layla Al-Hassani of BP and Co-Chair of IBBC YEN.

To watch this Webinar please click here or here.

Iraq Corruption Case: Former Oil Execs Convicted

By John Lee.

The UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has secured convictions against two former oil executives who conspired to give corrupt payments to secure contracts in Iraq.

A jury at Southwark Crown Court found Ziad Akle guilty on two counts and Stephen Whiteley guilty on one count of conspiracy to give corrupt payments. The convictions follow the guilty pleas of co-conspirator Basil Al Jarah who, in July 2019, admitted five offences of conspiracy to give corrupt payments.

In the years of reconstruction following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the three men conspired with others to pay bribes to public officials at the Iraqi South Oil Company (SOC) and, and in Basil Al Jarah's case the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, to secure oil contracts for Unaoil and its clients.

The post-occupation Iraqi government had commissioned the South Oil Company to run projects as part of a "Master Plan" to rebuild Iraq's oil industry and thereby expand the country's oil export capacity. This included the installation of offshore mooring buoys and new oil pipelines.

To ensure Unaoil benefitted from these state-run projects, the defendants and co-conspirators conspired to bribe public officials at the South Oil Company and Ministry of Oil to secure contracts for Unaoil and its clients SBM Offshore. Basil Al Jarah also conspired to bribe public officials at the South Oil Company and the Ministry of Oil to secure contracts for Unaoil and its client Leighton Offshore.

Basil Al Jarah admitted to paying bribes totalling over $6million to secure contracts worth $800m for the supply of oil pipelines and offshore mooring buoys. Ziad Akle and Stephen Whiteley were found guilty of paying over $500,000 in bribes to secure the $55m contract for the offshore mooring buoys.

SFO Director Lisa Osofsky said:

"These men dishonestly and corruptly took advantage of a government reeling from dictatorship and occupation, and trying to reconstruct a war-torn state. They abused the system to cut out competitors and line their own pockets.

"It is our mission to pursue and bring to justice those who use criminal means to weaken the integrity of business."

The SFO would like to thank the Australian Federal Police, the French Parquet National Financier, the Police Judiciaires of the Principality of Monaco, the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) of the Netherlands, the United States Department of Justice, Greater Manchester Police, the Metropolitan Police, the National Crime Agency and West Mercia Constabulary for their valuable assistance in this case.

The men are due to be sentenced on 22 and 23 July 2020.

More here.

(Source: UK SFO)

IBBC, World Bank introduce Free Training for Iraqi SMEs

You are invited to help IBBC and World Bank to introduce Iraqi SME's to FREE business training courses

WHEN: 29th June, 6pm to 8pm Iraq time

Please share this free business training initiative and the course registration with any SME in your network, however small, and encourage them to sign up.

Arabic version for sharing with your contacts here
WebEx Link: Join Using WebEx

YouTube Livestream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxeuaarijuE

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) has been asked by the World Bank to support them in the promotion of business resilience and training courses for SME's in Iraq.

The driver behind this initiative is to give Iraqi SME's support to ride out and survive the business effects of COVID-19 pandemic and the effect it has particularly on the smaller businesses in the economy.

The support is in the form of four free business training courses that SME's can take via Webex or Youtube, provided they sign up.

As a partner to the World Bank, IBBC is contacting our Chambers of Commerce and Union contacts, and those businesses we can alert.

The courses cover four topics :

  1. Business Planning.
  2. Accessing Finance.
  3. Communicating.
  4. Thriving.

We recognise that your suppliers are most likely to be already well prepared, but if there are some who may be finding the current economic climate challenging, these courses will provide a good sense check to best practice.

Please follow this link for the WebEx how-to manual in English

Please follow this link for the WebEx how-to manual in Arabic

Please let us know if there are any further questions by contacting london@webuildiraq.org

We very much hope that your teams will be able to share these courses with your supplier and business ecology.

(Source: IBBC)

Zoom Invitation: Iraq 2020, a Country at the Crossroads

You are invited
to hear a discussion of the IBBC Advisory Council's paper on
'Iraq 2020, a country at the crossroads'

When: Monday 15th June at 2pm UK
Where: Zoom Platform

The paper published for the new Iraqi Government recommends a number of decisive changes to be implemented without delay, in order for Iraq to be able to navigate the rapidly deepening economic crisis she is facing.

This open public forum takes place in partnership with IRIS (Institute of Regional and International Studies) at AUIS (American University of Iraq, Sulaimani) and Chatham House.

Speakers include:

  • Professor Frank Gunter, Lehigh University
  • Dr Renad Mansour, Chatham House
  • Mr Ahmed Tabaqchali, IRIS at AUIS
  • Professor Mohammed Al-Uzri, University of Leicester
  • Mr Abdul Aziz Shwan Ahmed, Iraqi Government
  • Mr Hani Akkawi, CCC

Click below to read the full paper:

Iraq 2020: a country at the crossroads - English

Iraq 2020: a country at the crossroads - Arabic

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

UK Drops Unaoil-related Probe into ABB

By John Lee.

The UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has dropped its investigation into ABB linked to the Unaoil case.

After a thorough and detailed review of the available evidence, the SFO concluded that this case did not meet the relevant test for prosecution as defined in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

The SFO announced its investigation into ABB Ltd in February 2017 following a self-report by representatives acting on behalf of the company.

(Source: UK SFO)

Fmr UK Defence Minister joins Genel Energy Board

Genel Energy has announced the appointment of David McManus as Chairman with immediate effect.

Sir Michael Fallon (pictured) has been appointed as senior independent Non-Executive Director, and Tolga Bilgin and Hassan Gozal have also been appointed to the Board as Non-Executive Directors.

David McManus has more than 40 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, having held various executive roles at Pioneer Natural Resources, BG Group, ARCO, Ultramar, and Shell. He is currently serving as a Non-Executive Director at Hess Corporation, a large, integrated US oil and gas company; FlexLNG, a Norwegian listed LNG shipping company; and Costain Group PLC, one of the UK’s leading smart infrastructure solutions companies. Previous directorships include Rockhopper Exploration plc and Northern Drilling Limited.

Sir Michael Fallon has 30 years of senior political and business experience, serving in four British Cabinets, and as Non-Executive Director on City and commercial boards. He was MP for Sevenoaks from 1997 to 2019, serving as Energy Minister responsible for the oil and gas sector from 2013 to 2014 and as Secretary of State for Defence from 2014 to 2017.

Sir Michael will act as Senior Independent Director, Deputy Chairman and Chairman of the International Relations Committee. George Rose is remaining at Genel as an independent Non-Executive Director and Chairman of the Audit Committee.

Tolga Bilgin has been CEO of Bilgin Energy Holding, and its subsidiaries, since 2014. Bilgin Energy Holding is a pioneer and a leading Turkish energy firm, that owns, operates and sells electricity from wind, natural gas, and hydroelectric projects, and is a major shareholder of Genel.

Hassan Gozal is Chairman of Daax Corporation, a Dubai based company with investments in a wide range of sectors, notably energy and oil, oil and gas trading, construction, and property development with significant Middle Eastern experience, including the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Daax Corporation is a major shareholder of Genel.

As a temporary result of these appointments, the majority of the Board (excluding the Chairman) is not independent. It is the intention of the Board to appoint one further independent Director to return to an equal balance of independent versus non-independent Directors as soon as reasonably practicable.

George Rose, Non-Executive Director of Genel, said:

“I am delighted to welcome David to the Board. He has vast experience which will help guide the Company through the next phase in our development, as we build our operating capability and seek material growth. The appointments today bring significant industry and international expertise, with experience of operating, investing, and delivering major projects in the region.”

David McManus, Chairman of Genel, said:

“Genel has built a portfolio with a compelling mix of cash-generation and funded growth options. I look forward to working with the Board as the Company continues to deliver on its strategy, enters an exciting new chapter, and strives to take advantage of the significant opportunities ahead.”

(Source: Genel Energy)

IBBC Council Meeting and Members’ Dinner

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBCC) held its Council Meeting, Dinner & Reception for IBBC Members and distinguished guests on 28 January. The Council Meeting, hosted by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, President of IBBC and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan took place in the House of Lords.

Ms Jwan Khioka, Minister Plenipotentiary from the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq greets IBBC Members and distinguished guests

The Council Meeting was followed by a Reception & Dinner hosted by Brigadier James Ellery CBE at the Cavalry & Guards Club, where Ms Jwan Khioka, Minister Plenipotentiary from the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq greeted more than 40 guests.

After dinner, Dr Heike Harmgart, Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) elaborated EBRD’s strategy and business plan for the SEMED region, especially highlighting the business opportunities in the Republic of Iraq.

Dr Heike Harmgart, Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), after dinner speaker

The Education, Training and Heritage Sector Table Meeting hosted by IBBC in its London offices on 28th January was attended by representatives from the UK Embassy of the Republic of Iraq, Bath Spa University, the University of Northampton, Stirling Education, UB Holdings, Unihouse Global, the British Council and the IBBC.

The meeting agreed its over-riding objective is to improve education across Iraq, build in-country capacity and facilitate cooperation between Iraq and international, especially UK, universities. The BC confirmed it is continuing to function in Iraq, albeit at a lower activity level with some restrictions to personnel movement. The proposal for senior representatives of UK universities to visit Iraq was well supported, subject to acceptable security, all parties agreed that involvement of relevant ministries in Iraq is essential to  A number of initiatives to encourage Iraq’ entrepreneurs in were presented, including establishing a Tech Hub in Baghdad, run seminars to assist students aiming to study outside Iraq and setting up an alumni network for Iraqi graduates who has studied in UK. It was agreed that the Chevening Programme had been successful and should continue.

A highlight of the meeting was the detailed presentation of Dr Amir Saadati, Strategic Advisor, City & Guilds MENA (Projects) (https://www.cityandguilds.com/) who gave a detailed presentation on the organisations plan to roll out a number of essential training programmes across Iraq in conjunction with IBBC Member Stirling Education.

IBBC Education, Training and Heritage Sector Table Meeting

The Construction and Infrastructure Sector Table met earlier in the day with Jones Lindgren of Perkins and Will in the chair. The main discussion was about current work and opportunities in the water and environment sectors with Brad Moxham of Pell Frischmann and Steve Rowan of Eame, both active in Iraq, leading the discussion.

The IBBC Executive Committee met in the morning of 29th January. The Committee of IBBC Members, reviews IBBCs activities and advises the management of its future planning. After many years of service Alistair Kett of PWC, Hadi Nezir of UB Holding, Hani Akkawi of CCC retired from the committee. The new committee members are John Curtin of EY, Charles Walker of ZHA, Charlie Burbridge of G4S and Sadar Al-Bebany of Sadar Trading Agencies.

IBBC Executive Committee meeting

The Oil & Gas Sector Table Meeting was hosted by IBBC in its London offices On 29th January was attended by representatives from BP, ExxonMobil, SKA, Constellis, Gulftek, Petrofac, Basrah Engineering Group, the UK FCO and the IBBC. There was wide ranging discussion on the current situation in Iraq and its adverse impact on investment in the country, in particular in the oil and gas sector. There was general agreement that more investment is required to maintain current levels of production, and additional investment will be required to increase production and monetise the extensive associated gas reserves currently being flared.

Oil & Gas Sector Table Meeting

Tech Forum at the IBBC Dubai Conference

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) is delighted to be holding a Tech forum within the main Conference at Address Hotel in Dubai on December 8th.

Principal among the speakers are Mr Yassin Bhija of GE Healthcare and Mr Uwe Bork of Siemens Healthcare who are driving the healthtech panel – exploring the hot topic of ‘How best to Develop primary and general healthcare in Iraq.’

Iraq has structural and tactical issues in providing universal healthcare at all levels of delivery and in all locations and classes. The two leading healthcare companies will discuss how tech solutions in general can address the issue and how their particular capabilities contribute to the general provision of healthcare.

Following on the Education Tech panel, will be discussing ‘The importance of Digital literacy in Iraq’, led by Google’s Mr Martin Roeke, Dr Victoria Lindsay of the British Council and Mr Timothy Fisher CEO of Stirling Education.

The Forum is sponsored by Innovest Middle East, an investment company that invests in startups during their scaling up stage in key markets in the Middle East region. With representations in Lebanon, Dubai, KSA, and Iraq, Innovest Middle East has played a key role in driving the startup ecosystem through direct investments as well as through supporting incubation and acceleration platforms collaboration with governmental and international bodies. In Iraq, Innovest Middle East launched IRAQPRENEURS in 2018, in collaboration with the World Bank, Central Bank of Iraq and leading private organizations, which grew to become one of the leading nationwide entrepreneurship empowerment platform in Iraq.

Mr Bassam Falah, CEO of Innovest will be addressing the delegates on the progress in support of the Iraqi start up ecology.

More speakers are expected to confirm.

For more information and to register, please contact london@webuildiraq.org.

(Source: IBBC)

Tech Forum at the IBBC Dubai Conference

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) is delighted to be holding a Tech forum within the main Conference at Address Hotel in Dubai on December 8th.

Principal among the speakers are Mr Yassin Bhija of GE Healthcare and Mr Uwe Bork of Siemens Healthcare who are driving the healthtech panel – exploring the hot topic of ‘How best to Develop primary and general healthcare in Iraq.’

Iraq has structural and tactical issues in providing universal healthcare at all levels of delivery and in all locations and classes. The two leading healthcare companies will discuss how tech solutions in general can address the issue and how their particular capabilities contribute to the general provision of healthcare.

Following on the Education Tech panel, will be discussing ‘The importance of Digital literacy in Iraq’, led by Google’s Mr Martin Roeke, Dr Victoria Lindsay of the British Council and Mr Timothy Fisher CEO of Stirling Education.

The Forum is sponsored by Innovest Middle East, an investment company that invests in startups during their scaling up stage in key markets in the Middle East region. With representations in Lebanon, Dubai, KSA, and Iraq, Innovest Middle East has played a key role in driving the startup ecosystem through direct investments as well as through supporting incubation and acceleration platforms collaboration with governmental and international bodies. In Iraq, Innovest Middle East launched IRAQPRENEURS in 2018, in collaboration with the World Bank, Central Bank of Iraq and leading private organizations, which grew to become one of the leading nationwide entrepreneurship empowerment platform in Iraq.

Mr Bassam Falah, CEO of Innovest will be addressing the delegates on the progress in support of the Iraqi start up ecology.

More speakers are expected to confirm.

For more information and to register, please contact london@webuildiraq.org.

(Source: IBBC)