Energy services giant Petrofac has been charged with seven separate offences of failing to prevent bribery between 2011 and 2017.
Following requisition by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), the company attended Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London earlier today.
Having been heard at the court, the case has been sent to the Crown Court, in line with the legal procedure for SFO cases into serious and complex financial crime.
A sentencing hearing in relation to the plea agreement had been due to take place at Southwark Crown Court on Monday, but is has been delayed until Friday due to scheduling.
London-listed Petrofac (PFC) has reported its intention to plead guilty, following a plea agreement it has entered into with the SFO.
In a separate statement, the company said it has indicated guilty pleas to seven counts of failing to prevent former Petrofac group employees from offering or making payments to agents in relation to projects awarded between 2012 and 2015 in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – contrary to Section 7 of the UK Bribery Act 2010.
These offers or payments were made between 2011 and 2017 and all employees involved in the charges have left the business, Petrofac said.
Petrofac added that it will make a further announcement following sentencing or any adjournment.
The penalty will be determined at the sole discretion of the Court.
It may take into account submissions by the company as to its ability to pay, along with the SFO’s recognition that Petrofac is a “changed company with transformed leadership, personnel, compliance and assurance processes”.
René Medori, Petrofac chairman, said: “This was a deeply regrettable period of Petrofac’s history. We are committed to ensuring it will never happen again. We have fundamentally overhauled our compliance regime, as well as the people, and the culture that supports it.
“Our comprehensive programme of corporate renewal has been acknowledged by the SFO. Petrofac has been living under the shadow of the past, but today it is a profoundly different business, in which stakeholders can be assured of our commitment to the highest standards of business ethics, wherever we operate.”
Sami Iskander, the company’s chief executive, added said: “With my new management team we are rebuilding the company into a new Petrofac that’s relevant for the future, across both traditional and new energies, built on a foundation of the highest ethical standards.”
David Stern, barrister and joint head of business crime at 5 St Andrew’s Hill, said resolving the issue would play into Petrofac’s favour.
“After Petrofac’s announcement their shares jumped more than 22% and this plea agreement represents the end of a long period of uncertainty for the company.
“Whilst the investigation was ongoing Petrofac would likely have been barred from obtaining government contracts and the resolution of the SFO’s investigation may now facilitate its ability to secure new contracts.”
Earlier this year, a former senior boss at Petrofac pleaded guilty to further charges of bribery in a SFO investigation related to contract wins.
David Lufkin plead guilty to three counts of bribery related to the award of contracts worth $3.3billion to Petrofac in the UAE between 2012 and 2018.
He had already pleaded guilty in 2019 to 11 other bribery charges brought by the SFO related to huge contract awards, worth $3.5bn in Saudi Arabia and $730m in Iraq.