Thursday, March 31, 2016

Unaoil carving up oil - links to Leighton: Fairfax and Huffington Post

In the last few years, the very idea of telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is dredged up only as a final resort when the alternative options of deception, threat and bribery have all been exhausted.
Read more at:
In the last few years, the very idea of telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is dredged up only as a final resort when the alternative options of deception, threat and bribery have all been exhausted.
Read more at:
 In the last few years, the very idea of telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is dredged up only as a final resort when the alternative options of deception, threat and bribery have all been exhausted  ...
~Cynical Havelites who witnessed the making of laws and sausages at different corners of this surreal Kafkaesque world
Unaoil Threatened To Seek Injunction Before Publication Of Bribery Expose

Backed by US Department of Justice anti-corruption prosecutors, the UK National Crime Agency, the Australian Federal Police and the FBI have launched investigations in response to a Fairfax Media-Huffington Post expose of widespread graft and bribery. Unaoil Scandal Day 2 ... Peter Gregg

Unaoil's business involves dozens of shell companies controlled by the Ahsanis in tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands, the Channel Islands and the Marshall Islands.
These companies sign agency or consultancy agreements with major oil and gas companies and set about winning contracts from state-owned oil corporations from Algeria to Turkmenistan. Winning a contract can take years, but the formula is simple. If Unaoil wins a contract for a client, it receives a percentage of the total contract amount as a fee. Unaoil will then pay its executives a success fee of their own. “Sub-agents” who have helped win the work also get a cut.
Despite operating in some of the world's most corrupt countries and in an industry where opaque payments and backroom deals are the norm, the Ahsanis maintain they have never once crossed the line. Their company gives its giant western clients local knowledge and services, nothing more.
But the leaked cache of hundreds of thousands of emails between the Ahsanis and Unaoil executives reveals a different story.  Who are the Ahsanis

"The letter arrived via snail mail, and it read like a page from a Le Carre spy thriller. If my newspaper and I wanted to expose a corporate bribery scandal involving the biggest names in the oil business, the anonymous sender wrote, I should place an advertisement in the real estate section of French newspaper Le Figaro in July 2015 ..."
The advertisment in French newspaper Le Figaro placed by an Australian journalist, using the words Monte Christo to alert a secret informant.

 *The offshore arm of Australian company Leighton Holdings paid millions of dollars in bribes to middlemen as part of an audacious strategy to influence Iraq’s deputy prime minister, oil minister and other senior officials, and win more than $1.3 billion of oilfield  contracts. Leighton’s 18-month campaign of corruption, bribery, fraud and money laundering is revealed in the biggest leak of documents in the oil industry’s history The Bribe Factory

 *Leightons Timeline

Australia’s business community awoke last week to the shocking headlines in Fairfax newspapers that Leighton Holdings and its subsidiaries stand accused of bribery and corruption in the acquisition of international contracts. And the stories continue, with The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald reporting today an enquiry in 1994 found former Leighton boss Wal King “not of good repute” The Conversation Story circa 2013
Mr Henry, a 20-year Leighton veteran, has also alleged that a number of Leighton executives had "suffered extreme stress and anxiety as a result of pressures to falsify or improve inaccurate reporting figures" Leighton probe (April 2015) 

So what is the Epilogue? Fairfax reporter Nick McKenzie explains in detail how source contacted him and why:
In that story, we alleged Unaoil had been used by the Australian firm as a middle man and was somehow connected to powerful officials and politicians in charge of large, tax-payer funded oil field projects.
Upon publication, this allegation was immediately dismissed, denied and denigrated as a work of fiction by Unaoil. In 2014, Unaoil’s patriarch, the urbane Iranian-born multi-millionaire Ata Ahsani, even swore on oath in the UK High Court that it was sheer nonsense to suggest Unaoil was some sort of a bribe-paying fixer for multinationals.
My mystery letter-writer, though, said they had been impressed by our 2013 story. They also hinted that we had not dug nearly deep enough.

Via Salon “World's biggest bribe scandal”: Report on oil corruption exposes how corporations help destabilize Middle East  

Mark Matthews, a prominent player in the tax crimes area has written this article:  Mark E. Matthews,  IRS Criminal Investigation: A National Asset Being Damaged, 150 Tax Notes 1319 (MAR. 14, 2016), PDF enclosed in this link. ( In a context of bribery and corruption, some of the insights might be of wider interest from this thoughtful practitioner who has been involved in enforcement and defense.

Mark begins his piece with the critical role that IRS CI plays in the tax system:

CI is the only enforcement agency pursuing investigations of potential criminal violations of the IRC. There are two key aspects of its work from a tax enforcement perspective. First, unlike IRS civil audit activity, CI's cases are public. CI publicizes its cases to send a message far beyond the individual taxpayer being prosecuted -- to more than 300 million taxpayers. The message has two components: (1) the threat to those tempted to cheat that there is a great risk to tax evasion, and (2) the assurance to those paying their fair share that they are not chumps and that those not paying it are not getting a free pass, or are at least risking their liberty. Second, the prospect of incarceration is a principal motivator to those tempted to cheat. If the only sanction for tax violations were civil penalties, many more would play the audit lottery more aggressively, especially as congressional budgets drive the audit rate lower each year. Yet even the slight prospect of a loss of liberty in one of our federal correctional institutions causes many to focus when they sign the perjury jurat on their returns. 
CI is the most dramatic example of the concept of general deterrence. Tax offenses are the one federal felony that every American confronts each year. We are not all tempted to sell drugs; we are not all in the securities industry or in a position to commit an environmental crime. But we all file returns. Therefore, the IRS must maintain a strong compliance message for the country's 300 million taxpayers, and it has -- in recent history, with as few as 1,500 criminal tax prosecutions each year. Even that low number, however, is dropping. That is far below the number of narcotics prosecutions brought by the federal government in attempting to deter a far smaller group of potential violators. Hence, CI needs publicity to achieve even a minimum enforcement presence. 
The CI chief, Richard Weber, recently made the same point in a conversation with the author: "Taxpayers voluntarily comply because they know it is the right thing to do, but they also want those who cheat the government to be held accountable. They want a level playing field. When they see that criminals get away with not paying their fair share, there is a direct impact on the voluntary compliance rate and the confidence in our entire system begins to erode. IRS-CI restores that confidence by ensuring that we all play by the same rules."

*Make elites compete: Why the 1% earn so much and what to do about it Brookings

Russia considering sanctions against UK for facilitating tax evasion through Caribbean territories

Dirty money centre? Hong Kong in money laundering spotlight as suspected Russian drug lord and his former model lover probed South China Morning Post

Madoff Aides Ask For Conviction To Be Overturned Because Prosecutor Made A Movie Reference Dealbreaker ... You just cannot make this stuff up  even with Kafkaesque imagination