Former oil executive appeals Unaoil’s corruption conviction
Paul Bond, 69, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in March after an investigation into how Monegasque oil consultancy firm Unaoil won contracts for Western clients in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.
Appeal by former director of Dutch energy services company SBM Offshore follows London Court of Appeal’s Dec. 10 decision to overturn the conviction of his former co-defendant Ziad Akle, former director of Unaoil for Iraq.
The court ruled that serious SFO failures made Akle’s trial unfair, and Bond’s appeal will put more pressure on SFO Director Lisa Osofsky, 10 days after the Attorney General ordered an independent review of the case.
Bond’s legal team said that overturning Akle’s conviction, because the SFO refused to release any material to the defense that could have helped his case, made his conviction dangerous.
“The decision of the Court of Appeal, in our view, provides for the acquittal of the remaining convicted defendants, and so we are now making our own request,” said Joseph Kotrie-Monson of Mary Monson Solicitors, Bond’s attorney.
A representative for convicted co-accused Stephen Whiteley declined to comment when asked if he would follow suit.
The Court of Appeals judges reprimanded the SFO for refusing to hand over to the defense documents which showed “totally inappropriate” contact between the SFO and a US-based fixer with special interests, who wanted to persuade Akle and his co-accused Basil Al Jarah to plead guilty.
Without these documents, defense attorneys were “significantly handicapped” when they challenged the reliability and admissibility of Al Jarah’s guilty plea in Akle, Bond and Whiteley’s subsequent trial, senior judges said. .
The fixer, former DEA agent David Tinsley, worked for the prominent Ahsani family, who founded Unaoil.
Anglo-Iranian brothers Cyrus and Saman Ahsani, former CEO and COO of Unaoil, pleaded guilty in the United States in 2019 to being part of a multi-million dollar scheme to bribe representatives of the United States. government in nine countries, but have not yet been sentenced.
Their father has not been charged.
The judges said Tinsley wanted to appeal to others to encourage the SFO to drop all lawsuits against the Ahsani in Britain. Tinsley said he had been acting right all along.
(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Alexander Smith)