Wood Group's Amec takeover under spotlight amid SFO's Unaoil probe

By Oliver Haill

Date: Wednesday 24 May 2017

Wood Group's Amec takeover under spotlight amid SFO's Unaoil probe

(ShareCast News) - A potential spanner has been thrown in the works of John Wood Group's acquisition of fellow engineer Amec Foster Wheeler after the pair revealed connections to the Unaoil bribery scandal.

Details of the takeover revealed Amec is likely to be pulled into a criminal investigation by the SFO over alleged bribery corruption and money laundering by Monaco-based Unaoil, a scandal in which fellow FTSE 250 group Petrofac also recently became embroiled.

The US financial regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Department of Justice already have ongoing investigations into Amec Foster Wheeler in connection with these matters and Amec believes this may well develop into an investigation of Amec by the SFO.

Wood Group's circular to revealed it has launched an internal investigation into its own dealings with Unaoil, with the circular saying one of its joint ventures "engaged Unaoil and that the joint venture made payments to Unaoil under agency agreements".

Agency agreements, according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, are often understood to mean payments to third parties which can be used to pay bribes, though Wood stressed that the internal investigation has "not confirmed that the payments made by the joint venture to Unaoil were used by Unaoil in ways that would amount to bribery, corruption or money laundering offences".

The internal investigation has also not found "any involvement in or knowledge of bribery, corruption or money laundering" by the company, joint venture or staff of either.

Wood and Amec agreed the terms of the £2.2bn takeover in March, creating a company with a combined value of about £5bn

Earlier this month, the SFO confirmed that it "is investigating the activities of Petrofac Plc, its subsidiaries, and their officers, employees and agents for suspected bribery, corruption and money laundering"

Last summer, the Petrofac commissioned its own internal investigation into allegations that Unaoil had made bribes on its behalf, but it found nothing.


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