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B v SFO convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal after Serious Fraud Office failures in disclosure

Cases 31 Mar 22

Howard Godfrey QC, instructed by Mary Monson Solicitors, led for the successful appellant, B, who’s convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal on Thursday 24 March 2022.

This is the latest SFO conviction to be quashed in the Unaoil case. The result is a further blow to the SFO’s beleaguered director Lisa Osofsky who is already subject to an independent review announced by the Attorney General into the Unaoil case which is to be conducted by the former High Court Judge and DPP, Sir David Calvert-Smith.

B, 70, was jailed by HHJ Beddoe at Southwark Crown Court in March 2021 for three and a half years after a re-trial, for conspiracy to give corrupt payments. The trial followed the SFO’s investigation into bribery involving the Unaoil energy consultancy. B’s employers, SBM who construct fixed point moorings for oil tankers to load oil at sea, had contracted with Unaoil to assist them to obtain a contract with the Iraqi Government who planned to significantly increase oil production and exports after the fall of Saddam Hussain.

The conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal as a result of the SFO’s failure to disclose material records about ‘wholly inappropriate’ contacts between a ‘fixer’ – Dave Tinsley – acting for the Ahsani family (who owned and controlled Unaoil) and senior officials at the SFO including its Director Lisa Osofsky.

Howard’s submissions that the ‘prosecutorial misconduct’ was such as to deny B a fair trial was accepted by the Court who ruled that the disclosure failures “prevented the defence from presenting B’s case in its best light”.

No retrial was ordered, see https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/second-unaoil-conviction-quashed-further-blow-uk-fraud-office-2022-03-24/

Cases | 31 Mar 22

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