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Unaoil raided on corruption charges in Monaco, multinationals implicated

Oil company Unaoil and the homes of its bosses have been raided by authorities in Monaco as part of a UK-led corruption investigation involving several multinational oil businesses.

Unaoil directors were questioned by Monaco police on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Monaco government said in a statement.

Officials in the principality acted after receiving a request from the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and information collected by Monaco’s investigation will be used by UK authorities as part of their investigation, the statement said.

The raid follows a joint report published on Wednesday by Australia’s Fairfax Media and the Huffington Post. The report alleges Unaoil “systematically corrupted the global oil industry” by paying millions in bribes on behalf of multinational oil companies to secure contracts in countries such as Kazakhstan and Iraq.

Eni is one of the companies implicated by the report. The Italy-based oil producer told Reuters it plans to investigate the claims of corruption, adding that “none of the people mentioned in the articles are currently employed by Eni”.

Unaoil’s chief executive, Ata Ahsani, said “The answer is absolutely no” when asked by both publications whether Unaoil had paid bribes.

The joint report is the result of a six-month investigation by journalists, and cites hundreds of thousands of internal emails sent between 2002 and 2012. Unaoil has reportedly not questioned the authenticity of the files.

Fairfax Media said the emails hold evidence of bribes paid to Middle Eastern oil chiefs and other officials. A number of unnamed Australian companies, including WorleyParsons, are also said to be implicated. WorleyParsons has denied any link with Unaoil, reports say.

Unaoil provides “industrial solutions” to the energy sector in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa, according to its website. Its services comprise engineering and construction, workforce management, operations and maintenance, and the supply of niche equipment and products.

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Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.
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