Questions remain over ‘bribery’ or extortion as Unaoil brothers plead guilty in US
Cyrus and Saman Ahsani have pleaded guilty in the US to charges alleging widescale bribery over a period of 17 years, news that is likely to bring an end to the long-running investigation into the now defunct Monaco company.
In a press release issued on Wednesday, October 30, the US Department of Justice said: “Cyrus Ahsani, 51, and Saman Ahsani, 46, both of United Kingdom, each pleaded guilty March 25 to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), for conspiring to facilitate bribes on behalf of companies in foreign countries in order to secure oil and gas contracts. UK resident Steven Hunter, 50, former business development director, pleaded guilty Aug. 2, 2018, to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.
“Cyrus and Saman Ahsani are set for sentencing April 20, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore of the Southern District of Texas. Hunter’s sentencing is scheduled for March 13, 2020, before U.S. District Judge David Hittner.
“According to court documents, former U.S. resident and CEO Cyrus Ahsani and former COO Saman Ahsani managed a Monaco-based intermediary company that provided services for multinational companies operating in the energy sector. From approximately 1999 to 2016, the Ahsanis conspired with others, including multiple companies and individuals, to make millions of dollars in bribe payments to government officials in Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya and Syria.”
The original investigation involved the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, but the agency’s work was overshadowed by the firing of its chief investigator over allegations of inappropriate behaviour, a move that the officer has challenged in court.
The story of payments to corrupt oil officials was first published in the Australian press, which has since been partial in its reporting to Australian oil exploration interests involved in litigation with Unaoil.
Neither brother is currently in the United States.
PHOTO: Saman and Cyrus Ahsani