The Huffington Post’s recently-published multi-part investigation centering on Monaco-based Unaoil and allegations of bribing foreign government officials to secure contracts within the oil and gas industry is starting to generate FCPA repercussions. Two companies that used Unaoil’s consulting services and were identified in the investigative pieces, KBR and FMC Technologies, announced in late April U.S. securities filings that they each have received inquiries from the DOJ in connection with an FCPA investigation into Unaoil’s activities. Both KBR and FMC Technologies also stated that they are cooperating with the DOJ’s inquiries.
In late March, the Huffington Post reported that “[h]undreds of major international corporations,” including KBR, FMC Technologies, Rolls-Royce, Halliburton, Samsung, and Hyundai, among many others, utilized Unaoil’s services to win contracts in the Middle East, Africa, and the former Soviet Union. The Huffington Post alleged that Unaoil engaged in widespread foreign bribery to achieve results for its clients: “The Monaco-based company specialises in paying bribes for multinational clients on the basis that it can deliver a valuable edge in bidding for oil and gas contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.” Unaoil has said that it is “shocked” by the “unfounded” allegations and has said that it will defend itself and its management “vigorously.”
Houston-based KBR is no stranger to FCPA investigations. In 2009, KBR and its former parent Halliburton paid a then-record $579 million to resolve charges that KBR participated in a decade-long scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials to obtain engineering, procurement, and construction contracts. This time around, the Huffington Post alleged that KBR utilized Unaoil “to help it win oil and gas contracts in Kazakhstan.” The alleged activity in Kazakhastan was occurring while the DOJ was investigating KBR’s activities in Nigeria, according to the Huffington Post.