Petrofac has suspended its chief operating officer Marwan Chedid as an investigation gets underway by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), causing a plunge in shares by as much as 30 per cent.
The oil services firm said today that Chedid had been suspended until further notice; he has resigned from Petrofac's board.
Shares fell more than 15 per cent on the news as trading opened, and were down as much as 30 per cent in early afternoon trading.
It came amid the company laying out a number of changes "to ensure Petrofac can retain its focus on its operations and clients, whilst also ensuring the company is able to continue to engage with the SFO's investigation".
Ayman Asfari stays on as chief executive, and Petrofac said to "ensure full separation of operational duties and the investigation", he won't be involved in any matters connected to the investigation.
Chairman Rijnhard van Tets said:
These decisions signal the board's determination to cooperate fully with the SFO and its investigation, whilst ensuring Petrofac continues to deliver for its clients.
Earlier this month, the SFO announced it was investigating the activities of Petrofac, its subsidiaries and its employees, under suspicion of bribery, corruption and money laundering relating to a probe into Moroccan oil firm Unaoil.
Shares in the FTSE 250 firm dropped over 14 per cent in the immediate aftermath of the SFO statement about its investigation earlier this month.
Petrofac also said a committee of the board has been created to be solely responsible for the firm's engagement with the SFO, featuring the chairman, independent non-executive directors and the chief financial officer.
The company said these changes did not seek to "pre-judge the outcome" of the SFO's investigation.