Unaoil bosses have pleaded guilty to FCPA conspiracy

US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Unaoil bosses have pleaded guilty to FCPA

The former CEO and former chief operations officer of Monaco-based Unaoil pleaded guilty in March to arranging millions in bribes to officials in at least ten countries, and a former Unaoil business development director pleaded guilty in August last year, the DOJ said Wednesday.

Former CEO Cyrus Ahsani, 51, and former COO Saman Ahsani, 46, both UK citizens, pleaded guilty on March 25 to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

They conspired “to facilitate bribes on behalf of companies in foreign countries in order to secure oil and gas contracts,” the DOJ said.

In August 2018, Unaoil’s former business development director, Steven Hunter, 50, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. He’s a UK resident.

No announcement about the three guilty pleas had been made until Wednesday.

Cyrus and Saman Ahsani are sons of Ata Ahsani, the founder of intermediary Unaoil. The family is originally from Iran.

Former CEO Cyrus Ahsani was once a U.S. resident, the DOJ said.

The defendants conspired to pay “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 DOJ said.

The offenses occurred from 1999 to 2016 and involved “multiple companies and individuals” as co-conspirators, the DOJ said.

The bribes helped Unaoil’s clients win oil and gas-related contracts.

The DOJ said Cyrus and Saman Ahsani “laundered the proceeds of their bribery scheme in order to promote and conceal the schemes and to cause the destruction of evidence in order to obstruct investigations in the United States and elsewhere.”

Steven Hunter, the former business development director, was part of the bribe scheme involving Libyan officials, the DOJ said.

Sentencing for Cyrus and Saman Ahsani is set for April 20, 2020 in federal court in Houston. Hunter’s sentencing is scheduled for March 13.


In June this year, a former Unaoil client, London-based TechnipFMC plc, paid the DOJ $296 million for FCPA violations in Brazil and Iraq. The firm also paid the SEC $5 million in September to resolve FCPA-related books and records and accounting controls offenses.

Another Unaoil client, Netherlands-based SBM Offshore, paid a criminal penalty of $238 million in late 2017 to resolve FCPA offenses in Brazil, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, and Iraq.

Two former SBM executives pleaded guilty in the United States to bribing officials at Brazil’s Petrobras and two state-owned energy firms in Africa.

The UK Serious Fraud Office opened an investigation into Unaoil in March 2016.

Four individuals have been charged in the UK as part of the investigation. At least one has pleaded guilty for bribery in Iraq.

Monaco-based Unaoil has always publicly denied the allegations of corruption. Its website at no longer contains any information.

So what companies did Unaoil work for?

According to data from FCPA Tracker, Unaoil has been identified as an intermediary in FCPA-related investigations involving these firms:

Honeywell International Inc.

Baker Hughes

John Wood Group PLC

TechnipFMC plc

SBM Offshore N.V.

Petrofac Limited

KBR, Inc.

FMC Technologies, Inc.

Core Laboratories N.V.


Four of the investigations have been closed following enforcement actions or declinations. Six remain open.

The agencies involved in the still-open investigations include the DOJ and SEC, along with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the UK Serious Fraud Office, the Brazil Office of the Comptroller General, the Brazilian Federal Prosecutor’s Office, and the Scotland Crown Office.

Among the countries mentioned in company disclosures and agency releases about the open investigations are Brazil, South Africa, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Angola, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Syria.

Unaoil itself is also the target of pending criminal and civil investigations.

The DOJ information (charging document) against the Ahsani brothers said in addition to SBM Offshore and Rolls-Royce plc, 25 other companies were part of the Unaoil bribe-paying conspiracy. The DOJ didn’t name the 25 companies.

Rolls-Royce reached a global settlement with prosecutors in the UK, the United States, and Brazil in January 2017 that required it to pay a combined total of about $809 million.

SBM Offshore paid the DOJ a criminal penalty of $238 million in November 2017 to resolve FCPA offenses in Brazil, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, and Iraq.

Cross referencing the DOJ information and the data on FCPA Tracker means up to 16 companies that were clients of Unaoil (and allegedly part of the bribery conspiracy) still haven’t publicly disclosed their Unaoil relationship.

A statement from Unaoil dated June 16, 2016 and published on FCPA Tracker said: “Unaoil has instructed its lawyers to commence legal action against Fairfax Media and its partners in relation to the malicious and damaging allegations negligently published by these media organizations and repeated by other media organizations globally.”

About a month later the SFO confirmed “a criminal investigation into the activities of Unaoil, its officers, its employees and its agents in connection with suspected offenses of bribery, corruption and money laundering.”

The SFO’s release said, “We have been approached by a number of sources who may have information relevant to this investigation.”

Thanks to Richard Cassin for this blogs report.

Global Secure Consulting provides ongoing support services to assist with fraud cases, tracing culprits, asset verification, “follow the money”, etc. etc. Please Contact us with your inquiries.


Americans getting tough with security negligence.

The Warren bill would send execs to jail for data breaches.

Executives at companies like Equifax who “negligently permit or fail to prevent” an incident that affects personal data may have to spend time in the slammer if Congress passes the Corporate Executive Accountability Act.

Under the bill, introduced by presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., CEOs could get as much as one year in prison for a single breach – and up to three years if the company has another incident.

The legislation seeks to apply some much-needed accountability. “Security breaches are always a possibility, but there’s no excuse for security negligence in 2019; the resources are available to raise the bar significantly and executives who don’t avail themselves of that should face consequences,” said Cody Brocious, hacker and head of hacker education at HackerOne.

“If you’re carrying a suitcase full of social security numbers and personal health information on the bus, you’d better make sure you have it with you when you get off,” said Brocious. “If you don’t, people will start (rightly) asking questions about what you just did, potentially landing you on the receiving end of a lawsuit or criminal charges.”

09 April 2019. Our thanks to SC Magazine for the above.

Global Secure Consulting provides ongoing support services to ensure security negligence is minimized and/or eliminated from our Clients’ operations. Contact us with your inquiries.


Husband of ‘Master Chef Israel’ is French fugitive wanted for fraud

Avitan is still a fugitive from French authorities and a suspect in the ‘sting of the century’.

In what was suppose to be a triumphant evening for the grand winner of Israel’s Master Chef reality show may have turned into a legal nightmare for her husband.

After the airing of Master Chef Israel last Saturday, it was revealed that the spouse of Vanessa Vidal Avitan is a wanted fugitive and convicted criminal believed to be linked to “the sting of the century,” considered one of the largest fraud schemes ever committed in European history.

Adi Avitan’s criminal record extends back at least a decade. He was previously sentenced in absentia to six years in prison on two separate fraud convictions and has been ordered to pay over a million Euro ($1,099,850) fine, Hebrew-language broadcaster Channel 13 reported on Wednesday.

Avitan is also accused of establishing illegal off-shore tax havens through a real-estate enterprise and is believed to have links to an Israel-French crime syndicate, according to Channel 13.

The Hebrew-daily Haaretz reported in 2016 that INTERPOL issued a warrant for his arrest but his name did not appear in a cursory search of the international organization’s database.

In response to the report, Yaron London, Avitan’s lawyer, told Channel 13 that his client denies any wrongdoing and is appealing his convictions.

“Adi is a legitimate businessman in Israel dealing in real estate. In France, he has appealed his conviction… and believes his innocence will [be restored].”

French authorities have not filed an extradition request for Avitan, who remains a free man in Israel.

Thanks to for this report

Global Secure Consulting provides ongoing support services to assist with fraud cases, tracing culprits, asset verification, “follow the money”, etc. etc. Please Contact us with your inquiries.