Aberdeen company pays £6.46m after bribery probe

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The payments were made in connection with onshore and offshore oil and gas work

An Aberdeen oil and gas company is to pay £6.46m to the Civil Recovery Unit after one of its subsidiaries was found to have paid bribes.

John Wood Group PLC (Wood) self-reported the behaviour at PSN and conducted an internal investigation.

PSN benefitted from payments made to another company, Monaco-based energy consultancy Unaoil, to secure contracts in 2008 and 2010 in Kazakhstan.

The payments were made on a commission basis and continued until 2015.

The fees to Unaoil were in connection with three contract tenders, two of which were successful, to provide services for the operation and maintenance of onshore and offshore oil and gas, chemical and petrochemical facilities in Kazakhstan.

Wood, which did not own PSN until 2011, said there was "limited evidence" of what services Unaoil provided for the payments.

The Aberdeen company described the behaviour as "simply unacceptable".

Wood agreed to the £6.46m settlement with the Civil Recovery Unit (CRU) under Proceeds of Crime legislation.

The amount of money represents the dividends and retained profits from the two contracts PSN won.

Wood's end of year accounts show the company has set aside $196m US dollars in order to settle bribery cases in the US, Brazil and UK.

'Responsible companies'

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said Wood and WGPSN fully co-operated with its civil recovery unit's investigation.

COPFS added that the two companies had taken steps to develop and improve its policies and training to try and prevent similar events taking place in the future.

Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC said: "Bribery and corruption undermine legitimate business and harm economic development.

"Companies are responsible for ensuring they do not allow their employees or contractors to secure any commercial advantage through bribery."

Anne-louise House, head of CRU, said: "The self-reporting initiative allows for responsible companies to accept their involvement in corrupt practices and to draw a line under previous conduct.

"In appropriate circumstances such as this, it gives them the opportunity to repay the illegitimate profits in lieu of criminal proceedings."

She added: "The funds which have been recovered will be remitted to the Scottish Consolidated Fund."

'Ethics and compliance'

Robin Watson, chief executive of Wood, said investigations into the matter had "shone a light on behaviour that was quite simply unacceptable".

He said: "While we didn't own the business until 2011, we take responsibility for dealing with the consequences and have taken steps to further strengthen our culture and processes to ensure it does not happen again.

"We continue to insist on the highest standards of integrity in every country and community in which we operate."

Chairman Roy Franklin said having self-reported on the issue, Wood conducted its own "thorough investigation".

He said: "I am confident that the historic engagement in one part of the PSN business does not reflect the values of Wood, past or present, or our people.

"The settlement underlines why we attach such importance to upholding the highest standards of ethics and compliance, and we continue to strengthen our governance in this area."

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