Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bribery, CEO, COO, corruption, Cyrus Ahsani, DRC, FCPA, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Hazakhstan, Iran, Iranian, Iraq, Libya, Monaco, oil and gas, oil company, Saman Ahsani, Syria, UK, Unaoil
“From approximately 1999 to 2016, the Ahsanis conspired with others, including multiple companies and individuals, to make millions of dollars in bribe payments to government officials in Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya and Syria…” (US DOJ in reference to the two brothers – Cyrus and Saman)
“The Ahsani family are a prominent Monaco-based business family of Iranian origin. The family is headed by Ata Ahsani. Ata and his two sons Cyrus and Saman run the energy industry consultancy Unaoil; his third son, Sassan, heads the British property company Lumina Real Estate Capital… Ata Ahsani was born in 1940 in Kerman, Iran, and later studied engineering in England and the United States before working for an oil company in Iran. Ata Ahsani left Iran for the United Kingdom in the wake of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and established Unaoil in 1990…” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahsani_family
The Ahsani family left Iran in 1979, and apparently became UK citizens. At some point the older brother and CEO of Unaoil, Cyrus Ahsani, became a US citizen (until 2011). Notice that the US appears to consider them British, but the UK Serious Fraud Office says that the brother, Saman Ahsani, “resides in Monaco and is subject to an extradition request…” Reuters calls them “Monaco’s Ahsani brothers“: “Monaco’s Ahsani brothers plead guilty in U.S. to vast bribery scheme“, October 30, 2019, by Kirstin Ridley, Mark Hosenball, Reuters: https://archive.li/bZ5xT
U.S. v. Ahsani, No. 4:19-cr-00147
From the US DOJ:
“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Oil Executives Plead Guilty for Roles in Bribery Scheme Involving Foreign Officials
The former CEO and chief operations officer (COO) of a Monaco-based intermediary company have pleaded guilty for their roles in a scheme to corruptly facilitate millions of dollars in bribe payments to officials in multiple countries. These included Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya and Syria. The company’s former business development director also pleaded guilty for his role in paying bribes in Libya.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick of the Southern District of Texas, Assistant Director in Charge Timothy R. Slater of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzales of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Houston Division and Special Agent in Charge D. Richard Goss of the IRS-Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Houston Field Office made the announcement.
Cyrus Ahsani, 51, and Saman Ahsani, 46, both of United Kingdom (UK), each pleaded guilty March 25 to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), for conspiring to facilitate bribes on behalf of companies in foreign countries in order to secure oil and gas contracts. UK resident Steven Hunter, 50, former business development director, pleaded guilty Aug. 2, 2018, to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. Cyrus and Saman Ahsani are set for sentencing April 20, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore of the Southern District of Texas. Hunter’s sentencing is scheduled for March 13, 2020, before U.S. District Judge David Hittner.
According to court documents, former U.S. resident and CEO Cyrus Ahsani and former COO Saman Ahsani managed a Monaco-based intermediary company that provided services for multinational companies operating in the energy sector.
From approximately 1999 to 2016, the Ahsanis conspired with others, including multiple companies and individuals, to make millions of dollars in bribe payments to government officials in Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya and Syria.
Additionally, court documents reflect 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. Hunter participated in the conspiracy to violate the FCPA by, among other things, facilitating bribe payments to Libyan officials between about 2009 and 2015.
The FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigation and U.S. Postal Inspection Service conducted the investigation. Trial Attorneys Dennis R. Kihm, Gerald M. Moody Jr., Jonathan P. Robell and Gwendolyn A. Stamper of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanne Elmilady of the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided substantial assistance in this matter.
The governments of Australia, Canada, France, Guernsey, Italy, Monaco, the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and UK provided significant assistance in this matter as did the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Eurojust.
The Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters. Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at http://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/foreign-corrupt-practices-act.
Criminal – Criminal Fraud Section
USAO – Texas, Southern
Press Release Number:
A UK Serious Fraud Office news release:
“Two charged in SFO’s Unaoil investigation
16 November, 2017 | News Releases
Today the Serious Fraud Office has charged two individuals in relation to the Unaoil investigation.
Ziad Akle and Basil Al Jarah have both been charged by requisition with conspiracy to make corrupt payments to secure the award of contracts in Iraq to Unaoil’s client SBM Offshore.
A third man, Saman Ahsani, is subject to an extradition request to Monaco on related charges.
The charges relate to alleged corrupt conduct within Unaoil, between June 2005 and August 2011.
* Basil Al Jarah has been charged with two offences of conspiracy to make corrupt payments, contrary to section (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 and contrary to section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906
* Ziad Akle has been charged with one offence of conspiracy to make corrupt payments, contrary to section (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 and contrary to section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.
Ziad Akle and Basil Al Jarah will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court at 10am on Thursday 7th December.
The investigation is ongoing.
Notes to editors:
* The SFO opened its investigation into Unaoil March 2016
* Ziad Akle (42) was Unaoil’s territory manager for Iraq and resides in London
* Basil Al Jarah (68) was Unaoil’s Iraq partner and resides in Hull.
* Saman Ahsani (43), was Unaoil’s Commercial Director, resides in Monaco and is subject to an extradition request to Monaco on related charges
* The strict liability rule in the Contempt of Court Act 1981 applies.
https://www.sfo.gov.uk/2017/11/16/two-charged-sfos-unaoil-investigation (Emphasis our own).