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9 convicted in £16m and $21m FH Bertling bribery cases

27 Tachwedd, 2018 | Eitemau newyddion

Stephen Emler and Giuseppe Morreale pleaded guilty for their part in a corrupt scheme to secure a ConocoPhillips freight forwarding contract, eventually worth over £16m, for FH Bertling as part of the ‘Jasmine’ North Sea oil exploration project, it can now be reported.

Christopher Lane pleaded guilty to a separate bribery scheme involving overcharging.  Colin Bagwell was convicted by the jury of the same offence.

Paying over £350,000 in bribes and facilitation payments, FH 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 waved through by ConocoPhillips staff.

These convictions add to the seven already secured by the SFO against former FH Bertling Group senior executives and the company, including Stephen Emler and Giuseppe 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 27th November 2018. Colin Bagwell was found guilty of conspiring with Christopher Lane in the overcharging scheme.

SFO Director, Lisa Osofsky said:

“These senior executives failed to show any integrity, resorting to bribery to secure lucrative contracts and hide their illicit activities. It is our mission to bring criminals like these to justice.

“Bribery has no place in business in Britain or abroad. It undermines the rule of law, distorts our economy and damages the reputation of the UK.”

The criminal investigation into corruption at FH 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 9 convicted of one or more charges and 4 individuals acquitted.

The SFO’s ‘Jasmine’ case focused on two bribery schemes created to secure a freight forwarding contract dishonestly from ConocoPhillips eventually worth £16m. The second scheme targeted Christopher Lane to ensure ConocoPhillips would wave through inflated prices FH Bertling charged for additional freight services without complaint.

A separate investigation into FH Bertling’s business in Angola revealed that senior executives had conspired to pay bribes to an Angola state oil company agent to secure around $21m worth of shipping contracts. The company, Stephen Emler, Giuseppe Morreale, Jorg Blumberg, Ralf Petersen, Dirk Juergensen and Marc Schweiger also pleaded guilty prior to the trial. One defendant, Peter Ferdinand was acquitted.

Further information on our investigation, trial and the FH Bertling cases can be found here and here.

A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday 11th December 2018.

Notes to editors:

1. Giuseppe Morreale and Stephen Emler both pleaded guilty to two counts (one on the Angola Indictment and one on the Jasmine Indictment) of:

  • Conspiracy to make corrupt payments, contrary to section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.

2. Christopher Lane pleaded guilty to one count of:

  • Conspiracy to make corrupt payments, contrary to section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906

3. Colin Bagwell, Robert McNally and Georgina Ayres were acquitted of:

  • Conspiracy to make corrupt payments, contrary to section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906

4. Colin Bagwell was convicted on one count of

  • Conspiracy to make corrupt payments, contrary to section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 in relation to his conspiracy with Christopher Lane

5. Peter Smith was acquitted of two counts of:

  • Conspiracy to make corrupt payments, contrary to section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906

6. Stephen Emler was Chief Financial Officer at FH Bertling

7. Giuseppe Morreale was Managing Director of FH Bertling’s London, Caspian and Kazakhstan operational regions

8. Colin Bagwell was Managing Director/Chief Commercial Officer of FH Bertling

9. Robert McNally was the Managing Director of Oil & Gas Associates UK LLP

10. Peter Smith was a Business Development Manager at FH Bertling, later engaged on a retainer via his own company Keady Computer Services

11. Christopher Lane was the Logistics Lead at ConocoPhillips

12. Georgina Ayres was the Deputy Contract & Procurement Manager at ConocoPhillips

13. FH Bertling Ltd was a shipping and freight forwarding services company based in the UK. It has since ceased trading and is in Liquidation

14. Further information can be found on our FH Bertling case page

15. Information about the previous FH Bertling trial can be found here