Fraud office to review director’s conduct as judge criticises ‘flattering’ text messages
THE Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is to conduct a review into its director’s behaviour after a judge accused her of falling for “flattery”.
Lisa Osofsky, a former US FBI lawyer, had exchanged emails and texts with David Tinsley, an American private investigator, who was acting for three members of the Ahsani family, which ran Monaco-based oil consultancy Unaoil.
The judge, Martin Beddoe, said Ms Osofsky, as well as other senior SFO members, should not have had any contact with the investigator, who was seeking more favourable sentences for his clients and had no legal role in the case. The allegations against her were made public yesterday as it was revealed that two former oil executives were convicted for bribing officials as part of a bid to win lucrative contracts in post-war Iraq. Ziad Akle, 45, a manager at Unaoil, and Stephen Whiteley, 65, an executive at Dutch oil company SBM, were found guilty of paying bribes worth more than $500,000 (£397,000) to secure a $55m deal in the Middle Eastern country after the ousting of Saddam Hussein.
The convictions at Southwark crown court follow a three-year inquiry into illegal payments made by Unaoil and will be a boon for the prosecutor after a string of high-profile failures. The company is said to have overseen bribes stretching from Kazakhstan to Iran.
Lisa Osofsky, director of the Serious Fraud Office, faces a review into her contact with a private investigator