A former Petrofac executive charged with using illicit payments to secure oil contracts in the Middle East has pleaded guilty to 11 charges of bribery, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said this morning.
David Lufkin, 51, formerly the UK-headquartered oil and gas firm’s global head of sales, made the plea at Westminster Magistrates’ Court as part of an ongoing SFO probe into Petrofac‘s activities. He will be sentenced at a later date.
The SFO announced its investigation into Petrofac in May 2017, saying it would probe the company’s subsidiaries and staff on corruption and money-laundering claims link to its investigation into Unaoil.
Lufkin made payments of $2.2m (£1.71m) to two agents in order to obtain the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the oil field in Badra, eastern Iraq. Petrofac was awarded the contract in February 2012.
In another charge, the SFO said Lufkin paid an agent around $4m for the operations and maintenance contract to for the Fao Terminal project. The agreement for Fao Terminal, also in Iraq, was awarded in 2012 and renewed annually three times. The SFO claims it was worth around $400m to Petrofac.
Additionally, the anti-fraud agency said Petrofac made payments of approximately $45m to its agent in Saudi Arabia between July 2012 and November 2015, to grab three contacts worth more than $3.7bn collectively.
The SFO said Lufkin had also made offers of bribes in been Iraq and Saudi Arabia that were unsuccessful, and never paid.
In a statement, Petrofac Limited, which runs the Petrofac group, acknowledged the plea but distanced itself from Lufkin, who was employed by Petrofac International Limited, a subsidiary.
René Médori, chairman of Petrofac, said: “The SFO has chosen to bring charges against a former employee of a subsidiary company. It has deliberately not chosen to charge any Group company or any other officer or employee. In the absence of any charge or credible evidence, Petrofac intends as a matter of policy to stand by its employees.”
“Petrofac has policies and procedures in place designed to ensure that we operate at the highest levels of compliance and ethics.”
The firm’s shares were more than 28 per cent early this afternoon.