Evidence in US$800 Mln Iraq Oil Bribery Trial is ‘Flimsiest of Innuendos’ Says UK Defence Lawyer

British and US troops invaded Iraq in 2003 and ousted Saddam Hussein, claiming he possessed weapons of mass destruction. Sanctions against the Iraqi oil industry were immediately dropped and dozens of Western companies rushed in to make money.

A barrister representing a British businessman accused of bribing an Iraqi oil official has told a trial in London the evidence against him included the “flimsiest of innuendos.”

Adrian Eissa QC said his client, Stephen Whiteley, 65, had not been a party to any corrupt payments made by his employer, Monaco-based Unaoil via an intermediary, Basil al-Jarah.

​Whiteley is accused, along with Ziad Akle, 45, and Paul Bond, 68, of conspiracy to give corrupt payments to Oday Al Quoraishi, an official in Iraq’s state-owned South Oil Company in return for a lucrative contract for single point moorings (SPM) equipment between 2009 and 2010.

Akle and Whiteley are also accused of bribing Al Quoraishi – who was nicknamed Ivan because of his predilection for Russian women – for an oil pipeline contract.  

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which has brought the prosecution, claims a total of US$6 million (£4.7 million) was offered to Al Quoraishi in exchange for contracts worth a total of $800 million.

All three men deny the charges. Their trial began at Southwark Crown Court in London in January but was halted for nine weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak and has now resumed at the Old Bailey in central London.

Mr Brompton said: “By…

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