The Unaoil scandal involving big ticket corruption in the oil industry is having its reverberations in Australia, too. The scandal has already brought some Australian companies under the scanner; these include WorleyParsons and the offshore arm of Leighton Holdings.
The scandal is being probed by a joint investigation team of America’s FBI, British and Australian police. A joint investigation by Fairfax Media and Huffington Post had blown the lid of a global bribery racket in which Monaco-based company Unaoil was exposed to be bribing officials of oil-producing nations for lucrative government contracts.
Leaked files have revealed that a middleman, Stefano Borghi, who worked for Unaoil in Kazakhstan in 2008 also worked for WorleyParsons. Borghi and Unaoil reportedly made hundreds of thousands of dollars by helping a WorleyParsons’ consortium to win a multimillion-dollar contract, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
Meanwhile, a top Australian businessman, Peter Gregg, is also facing a criminal investigation over an offshore payment he authorised while working as the chief financial officer of Leighton Holdings. The ASIC is probing whether the payment made by Gregg had breached Australian laws.Greg is currently heading the ASX listed Primary Health Care.
Gregg reportedly authorized a suspect payment to a United Arab Emirates firm, Asian Global Projects and Trading, in August 2011 for supplying steel to his Australian firm at “preferred and commercially beneficial” prices. But steel was never supplied.
The payment of $15 million was made through an Indian consultant, Mahesh Khemka. Gregg paid Khemka’s firm without conducting his own due diligence.
In the disclosures, Unaoil seemed to have used WorleyParsons as a conduit to pay middlemen huge sums. WorleyParsons confirmed that “Stefano Borghi was an employee of an agent of WorleyParsons.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten described the revelations as “tremendously alarming.”
“When it comes to anti-corruption, Mr. Turnbull’s always out there bashing the unions, but he’s been disappointingly silent on the conduct of Australian multinationals engaged in global bribery,” reports The Sydney Morning Herald quoting the Labor leader.