By Jonathan Russell
The oil giant is understood to have been in contact with SFO investigators over the bribery allegations relating to engineering projects one of its contractors is undertaking in the west Asian state.
The contractor, as yet unnamed, self-reported the allegation of bribery to the SFO after it came to light last year. Although there is no suggestion bribes were paid by BP employees, the oil major could be liable if the contractor is found to be culpable.
If the wrongdoing took place after July 1 last year both BP and the contractor could be prosecuted under the Bribery Act. The act makes a company criminally liable for acts undertaken by its employees, its agents and contractors.
No company has yet been prosecuted by the SFO under the Act although a number of investigations are understood to be ongoing.
The investigation by the SFO is the second BP has faced in recent months. As The Daily Telegraph reported in March BP is investigating allegations one of its senior tanker chartering executives received backhanders to influence the allocation of shipping contracts. The SFO is also taking a preliminary look at the allegations.
Both SFO and BP declined to comment on the investigation into the latest bribery allegations. However BP is understood to be in the process of terminating its contractual relationship with the contractor.
Revelations about the potential wrongdoing in Azerbaijan come at a particularly sensitive time for the oil giant.
The oil major is involved in one of the world’s largest gas pipeline developments in Azerbaijan, known as the Shah Deniz project.
The $25bn scheme will link energy hungry European consumers with the giant offshore gas fields of Azerbaijan.
It is understood the SFO investigation does not relate to the Shah Deniz project but to previous oil and gas pipeline engineering work BP has undertaken in Azerbaijan. The oil major is one of the largest investors in the country.
Source : telegraph