Nine convicted in relation to £16 million and $21 million FH Bertling bribery cases

Stephen Emler and Giuseppe Morreale pleaded guilty for their part in a corrupt scheme to secure a ConocoPhillips freight forwarding contract, eventually worth over £16 million, for FH Bertling as part of the ‘Jasmine’ North Sea oil exploration project, it can now be reported.

Christopher Lane pleaded guilty to a separate bribery scheme involving overcharging. Colin Bagwell was convicted by the Jury of the same offence.

Paying over £350,000 in bribes and facilitation payments, FH Bertling executives made these corrupt payments to ensure their bid for the ConocoPhillips ‘Jasmine’ shipping contract was successful and separately to obtain assurance that inflated prices it charged for additional services were waived through by ConocoPhillips staff.

These convictions add to the seven already secured by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) against former FH Bertling Group senior executives and the company, including Stephen Emler and Giuseppe Morreale, for a separate Angola bribery scheme.

In related proceedings, Georgina Ayres, Robert McNally and Peter Smith were acquitted of charges relating to the ‘Jasmine’ case on 27 November. Colin Bagwell was found guilty of conspiring with Christopher Lane in the overcharging scheme.

Bringing criminals to justice

Lisa Osofsky

Lisa Osofsky

SFO director Lisa Osofsky said:These senior executives failed to show any integrity, resorting to bribery to secure lucrative contracts and hide their illicit activities. It’s our mission to bring criminals like these to justice. Bribery has no place in business either here in Britain or abroad. It undermines the rule of law, distorts our economy and damages the reputation of the UK.”

The criminal investigation into corruption at FH Bertling began in September 2014, with the first charges announced in July 2016. In total, 13 individuals were charged as part of the SFO’s case, with nine convicted of one or more charges and four individuals acquitted.

The SFO’s ‘Jasmine’ case focused on two bribery schemes created to secure a freight forwarding contract dishonestly from ConocoPhillips eventually worth £16 million. The second scheme targeted Christopher Lane to ensure ConocoPhillips would waive through inflated prices FH Bertling charged for additional freight services without complaint.

A separate investigation into FH Bertling’s business in Angola revealed that senior executives had conspired to pay bribes to an Angola state oil company agent to secure around $21 million worth of shipping contracts. The company, Stephen Emler, Giuseppe Morreale, Jorg Blumberg, Ralf Petersen, Dirk Juergensen and Marc Schweiger also pleaded guilty prior to the trial. One defendant, Peter Ferdinand, was acquitted.

A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday 11 December.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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