Weir guilty over oil for food

Engineering firm Weir Group announced yesterday it would plead guilty to two charges of breaching UN sanctions over oil-for-food contracts it was awarded by Saddam Hussein between 2000 and 2002.

Weir was formally charged with the offences by the Crown Office in Scotland yesterday and it is expected the case will be heard at the High Court in Edinburgh today.

The charges relate to contracts, awarded by the Iraqi government between 2000 and 2002 which were inflated by £3.1m. The payments were made via an agent working for one of the company’s subsidiaries. Initial independent inquiries found that Weir paid a total $4.5m (£2.85m) in kick-backs on 16 of the 38 contracts it was awarded by the Iraqi government.

The oil-for-food programme was designed to allow Saddam Hussein’s government to buy essential supplies despite the UN sanctions imposed on it. But an independent UK investigation found more than 2,000 companies globally had accepted illegal payments many of which were kicked back to government officials.

The engineering firm will be subject to a confiscation order of £13.9m, which has already been agreed. Weir is may also receive a further fine.

TIME LINE | WEIR PAYS PRICE FOR OIL-FOR-FOOD KICK-BACKS

2000-2002
Weir Group is awarded 38 contracts by Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi government related to the supply of pump equipment and spare parts for clean water supply and oil field water injection and pipelines.

July 2004
Weir admits an internal investigation has discovered financial irregularities in its work for the UN’s Oil for Food programme. The company initially denied any wrongdoing.

July 2004
Weir commissions an external investigation of all contracts undertaken under the oil-for-food programme. The external investigation is undertaken by City law firm Herbert Smith.

October 2004
Weir disciplines staff following the findings of both its internal and external investigations into kick-backs to Iraqi government officials but refuses to say whether any staff have been sacked.

October 2005
An independent inquiry finds over 2,000 firms involved in the oil-for-food programme made illicit payments to the Iraqi government for contracts.

December 2010
Weir announces it will plead guilty to two counts of breaching UN sanctions in the Scottish High Court.