Stephen Emler and Giuseppe Morreale pleaded guilty for their part in a corrupt scheme to secure a ConocoPhillips freight forwarding contract, worth over £16m (U.S. $20.4 million), for logistics and freight operations company F.H. Bertling as part of the ‘Jasmine’ North Sea oil exploration project, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office announced.
Christopher Lane pleaded guilty to a separate bribery scheme involving overcharging. The jury convicted Colin Bagwell of the same offence.
Paying over £350,000 (U.S. $447,000) in bribes and facilitation payments, F.H. Bertling executives made these corrupt payments to ensure their bid for the ConocoPhillips ‘Jasmine’ shipping contract was successful and separately to obtain assurance that inflated prices it charged for additional services were waived through by ConocoPhillips staff.
These convictions add to the seven already secured by the SFO against former F.H. Bertling Group senior executives and the company, including Emler and Morreale, for a separate Angola bribery scheme.
In related proceedings, Georgina Ayres, Robert McNally, and Peter Smith were acquitted of charges relating to the ‘Jasmine’ case on 27 November 2018. Bagwell was found guilty of conspiring with Lane in the overcharging scheme.
“These senior executives failed to show any integrity, resorting to bribery to secure lucrative contracts and hide their illicit activities,” SFO Director Lisa Osofsky said in a statement. “It is our mission to bring criminals like these to justice.”
The criminal investigation into corruption at F.H. Bertling began in September 2014, with the first charges announced in July 2016. In total, 13 individuals were charged as part of the SFO’s case, with nine convicted of one or more charges and four individuals acquitted.
The SFO’s ‘Jasmine’ case focused on two bribery schemes created to secure a freight forwarding contract dishonestly from ConocoPhillips eventually worth the £16m. The second scheme targeted Lane to ensure ConocoPhillips would waive through inflated prices F.H. Bertling charged for additional freight services without complaint.
A separate investigation into F.H. Bertling’s business in Angola revealed that senior executives had conspired to pay bribes to an Angola state oil company agent to secure around $21 million worth of shipping contracts. The company, as well as Emler, Morreale, Jorg Blumberg, Ralf Petersen, Dirk Juergensen and Marc Schweiger also pleaded guilty prior to the trial. One defendant, Peter Ferdinand, was acquitted.
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for 11 December 2018.