A former sales executive found guilty of involvement in a Unaoil Group-linked bribery scheme has appealed his conviction at a London court, arguing the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office failed to disclose secret communications between agency officials and a private investigator for other individuals implicated in the wrongdoing.
Paul Bond, a former sales manager for Unaoil client
said the SFO “fundamentally failed to comply” with its duty to disclose evidence and stopped him from receiving a fair trial.
Mr. Bond’s appeal, filed Monday, follows a ruling released earlier this month that overturned the conviction of Ziad Akle, a former Iraq territory manager for Unaoil, who was one of Mr. Bond’s co-defendants.
Messrs. Akle and Bond were convicted of involvement in a corruption scheme involving Unaoil, a Monaco-based oil-services firm, but have argued the SFO improperly communicated with a private investigator for Ata Ahsani and his two sons, who together owned and controlled the company.
The private investigator, David Tinsley, communicated with senior SFO officials, including SFO head Lisa Osofsky.
“It went far beyond being merely inappropriate,” said Mr. Bond’s lawyer, Joseph Kotrie-Monson of Mary Monson Solicitors.
The appeals court in Mr. Akle’s case found that Mr. Tinsley acted as a “fixer” to broker a deal between the Ahsanis and enforcers. The court faulted the SFO for failing to disclose documents detailing its interactions with Mr. Tinsley, who in communications with the SFO indicated he could help secure guilty pleas from Mr. Akle and Basil al Jarah, another individual ultimately charged in the case.
The logic of the appeals court decision overturning Mr. Akle’s conviction applies equally to Mr. Bond’s case, his legal team argued.
The decision to clear Mr. Akle dealt a significant blow to the reputation of the SFO, which as an enforcer has had difficulty bringing successful actions. Mr. Bond’s appeal will increase scrutiny on the agency, which has launched a review into its dealings with Mr. Tinsley.
U.K. Attorney General
said this month that she would also begin her own probe into the SFO’s handling of the case.
A representative for the SFO didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Bond is currently serving a three-and-a-half year prison sentence, but has asked for bail as part of his appeal. Also charged in the case was Stephen Whiteley, who alongside Messrs. Bond and Akle was convicted and sentenced to prison.
Mr. al Jarah pleaded guilty in 2019 and was sentenced to three years and four months in prison. Saman Ahsani, Unaoil’s chief operations officer, and
its chief executive, pleaded guilty to U.S. charges.
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