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Verdicts announced in fraud trial

On November 27, verdicts were announced at the UK's Southwark Crown Court regarding logistics activities relating to ConocoPhillips' Jasmine North Sea oil exploration project.


 
Stephen Emler, then chief financial officer at FH Bertling UK Ltd, and Giuseppe Morreale, former managing director at FH Bertling UK Ltd, pleaded guilty to their parts in a conspiracy to make corrupt payments relating to a freight forwarding contract. Colin Bagwell, a former managing director at FH Bertling UK Ltd, was cleared of the charge against him in this case.
 
Acquitted of all charges relating to the Jasmine case were Peter Smith, director of Keady Computer Services and former FH Bertling UK Ltd sales executive; Georgina Ayres, deputy contract and procurement manager at ConocoPhillips; and Robert McNally, managing director of Oil & Gas Associates UK LLP.
 
Bagwell was, however, found guilty in a separate scheme related to the Jasmine project involving overcharging. Christopher Lane, logistics lead at ConocoPhillips for the project, pleaded guilty to the same offence. The scheme arranged by the individuals ensured that ConocoPhillips staff waived through inflated invoices for additional services.
 
Sentencing is scheduled for December 11, 2018.
 
These convictions are in addition to the seven already secured by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) against FH Bertling UK Ltd executives for a separate corruption scheme in Angola, which HLPFI reported here.
 
An investigation revealed that FH Bertling UK Ltd itself, and six former executives, conspired to pay an executive at an Angolan state-owned oil company in order to receive payments for work already executed in the country.
 
FH Bertling UK Ltd has since been deconsolidated and sold.
 
A source close to Bertling Logistics said the investigation of its former FH Bertling UK Ltd subsidiary stemmed from a self-report to the SFO in 2012, following the implementation of new compliance processes in 2010. None of the accused continue to work for Bertling Logistics, or any of its subsidiaries, and the group has again overhauled its compliance systems.
 
SFO director, Lisa Osofsky, said: “These senior executives failed to show any integrity, resorting to bribery to secure lucrative contracts and hide their illicit activities. It is our mission to bring criminals like these to justice.
 
“Bribery has no place in business in Britain or abroad. It undermines the rule of law, distorts our economy and damages the reputation of the UK.”

 

www.sfo.gov.uk

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