The Oil Sector’s Corruption Factory in the Middle East

Unaoil is a Monaco-based company that Huffington Post has just called "the corruption factory.” The accusations on the company are specific and are based on a six month investigation documented with e-mails.

The role of Unaoil, according to Huffington Post, is to play the middle men between Western oil companies and oil-rich states, passing on bribes to critical individuals to secure contracts for a significant commission. Allegedly, this gives Western companies "plausible deniability” and allows decision-makers in oil rich countries to cash-in political influence. Their range of operation includes Iraq, Iran, Lybia, Kuwait, and the Assad regime in Syria.

The multi-million dollar company is run by the Aksani family and is said to have a cream of the crop global clientele that includes royalty and business elites. They are also known for their charitable work and real estate in London. The company not only categorically denies any allegation of corruption, but has since 2007 been certified by anti-corruption agency Trace International for its clean and bribery-free business in a not-so-clean industry in which business and politics mingle unusually a lot.

While this may not be the only company accused of doing the same sort of business, The Huffington Post has gained access to leaked emails of the company, which are in the hands of Fairfax Media. These e-mails have allowed for very specific accusations.


In Iraq, Unaoil was operating on behalf of Australian, Italian, German, Dutch, British and US-based clients: Saipem, Rolls-Royce, FMC Technologies, Cameron, MAN Turbo, Weatherford, and Leighton Offshore.

Between 2004 and 2012 Unaoil is accused of paying at least $25 million in bribes in Iraq, to secure the support "greedy” officials, including a Deputy Prime Minister, an Oil Minister, the Director General of the South Oil Company, and other top oil officials. Bribes ranged from $1,000 to multi-million lump sums. Money was also channeled to Italian Eni officials running the tender for the giant Zubair oil field. Iraqi officials, including former Deputy Prime Minister Dr Shahristani deny any wrongdoing.


In Iran, Unaoil "represented” Weir Pumps, ABB, Elliott and Japan’s Yokogawa. Prior to the end of the embargo, apparently Unaoil used front companies to circumvent embargo restrictions. There are fewer names in terms of Iranian contacts.


Unaoil was also well-connected with the Colonel Gaddafi regime, operating in Lybia since 2004. A key connection of the company was Mustafa Zarti, a confidant for the Gaddafi regime. In Lybia, theyr represented Malaysia’s Ranhill, Korea’s ISU, and Spain’s Tecnicas Reunidas.

Kuwait and Abu Dhabi

In Kuwait the contact of the company is referred to by the nickname "big cheese.” Unaoil was representing US-based FMC Technologies. In Abu Dhabi Unoil represented the Indian conglomerate Larsen & Toubro.


In Suria Unaoil represented a British company,Petrofac, helping them to secure contracts with Assad regime’s petroleum companies in 2008-2009. However, from the communication it appears that the client was not aware of the bribing process.


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