Board responds to investigation
Petrofac suspends director in SFO inquiry
A director of oil services company Petrofac has been suspended and an outside consultant appointed as a fraud investigation is carried out by the Serious Fraud Office.
The SFO launched an inquiry earlier this month into the company, related to activities surrounding Unaoil and other agents.
In a statement this morning, the Petrofac said it had suspended chief operating officer Marwan Chedid until further notice and he has resigned from the board.
The company said its move is among a number of decisions to ensure Petrofac “can retain its focus on its operations and clients, whilst also ensuring the company is able to continue to engage with the SFO’s investigation.”
A committee has been established to be solely responsible for the company’s engagement with the SFO and to oversee its response to the investigation.
It comprises the chairman, independent non-executive directors and the chief financial officer.
“Given the scale of the investigation the committee has decided to engage a senior external specialist to oversee the company’s management of and response to the investigation. This person will also review the company’s compliance processes.”
Ayman Asfari will continue in his role as chief executive officer. To ensure full separation of operational duties and the investigation, he will not be involved in any matters connected to the investigation, and will have no role or responsibilities for engaging with or liaising with agents and consultants.
“These actions do not in any way seek to pre-judge the outcome of the SFO’s investigation.” said the statement.
Chairman Rijnhard van Tets said: “These decisions signal the Board’s determination to cooperate fully with the SFO and its investigation, whilst ensuring Petrofac continues to deliver for its clients.”
On 12 May 2017 the SFO confirmed that it is investigating the activities of Petrofac, its subsidiaries, and their officers, employees and agents. The investigation is related to the SFO’s ongoing investigation into the activities of Unaoil.
Ayman Asfari and Marwan Chedid were arrested, questioned under caution by the SFO, and were released without charge. Since 12 May the company has provided large volumes of information in response to very broad requests made under section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987. The company notes that the SFO will also have access to other information in the context of its wider investigation.
During 2016 the board of Petrofac commissioned an independent investigation, with the support of external advisors, into allegations in the media in relation to Unaoil.
The board shared the findings of this investigation with the SFO. The SFO has informed Petrofac that it does not accept those findings. The matters that were the subject of the board’s investigation will be part of the SFO’s ongoing investigation into Petrofac.
The SFO has also informed Petrofac that it does not consider the company to have cooperated with it, as that term is used in relevant SFO and sentencing guidelines.
It is for the SFO to determine the outcome of its investigation and any prosecutions in due course. The company said is committed to cooperating with the SFO’s investigation and is devoting significant resources in its current engagement with the SFO.
Mr Asfari will stand down from the nominations committee, which is responsible for decisions relating to the appointment and removal of senior leadership roles, with immediate effect.
The company said an update will be given on the future composition of committees in due course.