On March 29 2017 the High Court dismissed the judicial review claim brought by Unaoil and a number of its executives against the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), in respect of the lawfulness of a letter of request issued to the Monegasque authorities to provide assistance with the ongoing investigation into Unaoil in the United Kingdom.

In its judgment, the court rejected the claimant's submissions that:

  • a request for mutual legal assistance (MLA) must satisfy the same criteria as a domestic search warrant or be subject to a "heightened procedural obligation";
  • the Crime (International Cooperation) Act 2003, which governs the MLA regime, contains an implied duty of candour with which the letter of request did not comply; and
  • the letter of request was so broadly drafted that it represented an unlawful fishing expedition with which to catch additional wrongdoing that was not, at the time, the subject of investigation.

The SFO has announced that it formally opened related investigations into global technology and consulting services firm KBR Inc and oil and gas giant Petrofac Plc on April 28 2017 and May 12 2017, respectively. The investigation into Petrofac commenced after the SFO publicly rejected the results of the internal investigation report provided to it by Petrofac, adding that it did not consider that the company had cooperated with its investigations. The investigations into KBR and Petrofac both concern suspected bribery, corruption and money laundering.

For further information on this topic please contact Kathleen Harris, Sean Curran, Stuart Baker or Oliver Cooke at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP by telephone (+44 20 7786 6100) or email ([email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]). The Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP website can be accessed at www.apks.com.