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Petrofac bribery investigation: Former Tory minister once lobbied Bahrain for oil contract with donor firm Open in fullscreen

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Petrofac bribery investigation: Former Tory minister once lobbied Bahrain for oil contract with donor firm

He lobbied the royals months after investigation into bribery was launched [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 February, 2020

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Liam Fox once wrote a letter to the Bahraini crown prince about Petrofac, when the company was being investigated for bribery.
Conservative party MP lobbied the royal family of Bahrain to give a $5 billion contract to a firm under investigation for bribery, and whose owner is a prolific donor to the political party.

Liam Fox, who was international trade secretary at the time had according to documents written a letter to the Bahraini crown prince lobbying on behalf of Petrofac, an oil and gas company, the Guardian reported on Monday.

The oil company’s co-owner and chief executive Ayman Asfari and his wife donated some £800,000 ($1.03million) to the Conservative party between 2009 and 2017 in their names.

Fox had lobbied Bahrain four months after the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced that it intends to investigate the company for corruption, including suspected bribery and money laundering.

In 2017 the SFO announced it was investigating, and arrested and questions a number of people involved with the firm including Asfari himself, who was later released without the charge.

The investigation into Petrofac is ongoing.

A spokesperson for the Department for International Trade said the government “supports British business at home and abroad” and added that “this was the case with Petrofac.” 

Liam Fox with Bahraini crown prince [@LiamFox/Twitter]

It did not address potential conflict of interest such a move creates.

A Petrofac spokesperson said: “Petrofac does not make political donations. Any donations by Ayman Asfari and his family are made in a strictly personal capacity.

“Any suggestion that Mr. Asfari’s donations were the basis for preferential treatment by government for Petrofac are entirely false.”

Two other Conservative MPs, former prime ministers Theresa May and David Cameron, had also lobbied Bahrain on behalf of Petrofac, Guardian also found.

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