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Scottish oil giant Wood Group probed over bribery firm link

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One of Scotland’s biggest firms is being probed over its links to a Monaco-based firm suspected of alleged bribery.

The Wood Group, which had a turnover of £8.5 billion last year, is being investigated by the Crown Office about payments to oil contractor Unaoil.

The Aberdeen-based oil services company was built by Sir Ian Wood, whose personal wealth is estimated at more than £2bn. He retired from the company in 2012. The company made payments through an old joint venture company to Unaoil. Monaco-based Unaoil has been under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office since 2016 in relation to a £500 million contract to build oil pipelines in Iraq.

In July, former Unaoil executive Basil Al Jarah pleaded guilty to five counts of corruption in relation to bribing officials in Iraq. Three other men face trial in January, including Aberdeen man Stephen Whiteley, who was Unaoil’s general territories manager for Iraq, Kazakhstan and Angola.

Whiteley, 64, has been charged with conspiracy to make corrupt payments and is due to go on trial in London on January 13. His lawyer said he “strenuously” denied the charge.

In its mid-year results statement, the Wood Group said it had conducted an internal investigation into its engagement of Unaoil.

It found payments were made through a “legacy” joint venture company to Unaoil.

The findings of the internal investigation were reported to the Crown Office in September 2017.

The Crown Office and the Serious Fraud Office agreed Scottish prosecutors had jurisdiction.

The Wood Group said: “The matter is ongoing and we continue to engage with COPFS in a transparent, cooperative manner.”

The Crown Office said: “A report submitted by the Wood Group detailing their findings of an internal investigation is under consideration.

“It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”