Justice Department Unseals Unaoil Executives’ FCPA Guilty Pleas
The Justice Department announced that three Unaoil executives entered FCPA guilty pleas last year. The three executives cooperated with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of other companies and individuals.
In March 2018, the former Unaoil CEO, Cyrus Ahsani, and former Unaoil chief operations officer, Saman Ahsani, plead guilty to one count of FCPA conspiracy for paying millions in bribes to foreign officials in at least ten countries; in August 2018, Steven Hunter, a former Unaoil business development director plead guilty to FCPA conspiracy.
Unaoil is a long-time intermediary in the oil and gas industry based in Monaco. The company was founded by Ata Ahsani. CEO Cyrus Ahsani and COO Saman Ahsani, who plead guilty, are the sons of Ata Ahsani. Steven Hunter, Unaoil’s former business development director, assisted in the Libya bribery scheme.
The defendants conspired to pay “millions of dollars in bribe payments to government officials in Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, the Democratic Republic Congo, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya and Syria.” Also, the defendants engaged in bribery, laundering of proceeds and destruction of evidence.
Unaoil assisted a number of oil and gas companies in executing bribery schemes to secure valuable contracts/tenders.
The Unaoil executives’ pleas were placed under seal while they cooperated with law enforcement investigations. The unsealing and scheduling of sentencing reflects the fact that the executives have completed their cooperation.
In June 2019, TechnipFMC, a Unaoil client, paid the Justice Department $296 million for FCPA violations in Brazil and Iraq. (Here). The firm also paid the SEC $5 million in September 2019 to resolve FCPA-related books and records violations.
In 2017, SBM Offshore, another Unaoil client, paid a criminal penalty of $238 million to resolve FCPA charges relating to bribery in Brazil, Angola, Equatorial Gu9nea, Kazakhstan, and Iraq. (Here). The SBM investigation resulted in guilty pleas by two SBM executives for bribery of Brazil’s Petrobas and two government oil companies in Africa.
Cyrus and Saman Ahsani are scheduled to be sentenced on April 20, 2010 in federal court in Houston. Hunter is scheduled to be sentenced in on March 13, 2020.
The UK Serious Fraud Office has charged four individuals with foreign bribery, one of whom has plead guilty to bribery in Iraq.