An Aberdeen company is to pay back more than £6.4 million after it self-reported involvement in bribery to secure contracts in Kazakhstan.
The Civil Recovery Unit is to recover the money under proceeds of crime legislation after the company accepted it had benefitted from unlawful conduct.
Energy company WGPSN admitted that one of its subsidiaries, PSNA Limited, had benefitted from payments made to Unaoil to secure contracts in Kazakhstan.
The payments to Unaoil were made in connection with three contract tenders, two of which were successful, to provide services for the operation and maintenance of onshore and offshore oil and gas, chemical and petrochemical facilities in Kazakhstan.
WGPSN’s ultimate holding company is John Wood Group PLC.
The contracts were entered into before the PSNA business was acquired by Wood, and the potential misconduct came to light in March 2016.
Wood conducted an internal investigation and, in May 2017, the results of the investigation were submitted to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).
Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC said: “Bribery and corruption undermine legitimate business and harm economic development.
“Companies are responsible for ensuring they do not allow their employees or contractors to secure any commercial advantage through bribery.
“COPFS and the Civil Recovery Unit are committed to taking effective steps to ensure businesses face up to their responsibilities and relinquish any unlawfully obtained profits.
“Any companies who uncover any instances of bribery should notify the Crown Office as soon as possible.”
WGPSN submitted a formal report under the self-reporting initiative in September 2019.
After consideration, COPFS referred the case to the Civil Recovery Unit for investigation.
The Civil Recovery Unit said that Wood and WGPSN fully co-operated with the investigation and that they have taken steps to develop and improve policies and training to try to prevent similar events taking place in the future.
The successful contracts were entered into in 2008 and 2010 by a joint venture in which PSNA Limited held an interest.
Between 2012 and August 2015, a total of 1,358 million Kazakhstan tenge (then worth approximately £6.29 million) was paid by the joint venture to Unaoil but there was limited evidence of legitimate services having been provided, the Civil Recovery Unit said.
WGPSN has now agreed to pay £6,465,564, which represents the dividends and retained profits from the two contracts.
Anne-Louise House, head of the Civil Recovery Unit, said: “The self-reporting initiative allows for responsible companies to accept their involvement in corrupt practices and to draw a line under previous conduct.
“In appropriate circumstances such as this, it gives them the opportunity to repay the illegitimate profits in lieu of criminal proceedings.
“The funds which have been recovered will be remitted to the Scottish Consolidated Fund.”
Robin Watson, chief executive of Wood, said: “The investigation shone a light on behaviour that was quite simply unacceptable. While we didn’t own the business until 2011, we take responsibility for dealing with the consequences and have taken steps to further strengthen our culture and processes to ensure it does not happen again.
“We continue to insist on the highest standards of integrity in every country and community in which we operate.”
Roy Franklin, chairman of Wood, said: “Having self-reported on the issue, we conducted a thorough investigation into the matter.
“I am confident that the historic engagement in one part of the PSN business does not reflect the values of Wood, past or present, or our people.”