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Second Australian arrested over Iraqi oil bribes scandal

Australian police on Monday charged a man in connection with allegations a Sydney-based firm paid US$78 million in bribes to secure lucrative Iraqi oil contracts.

The man, who was not named by police, was identified in media reports as former Leighton Holdings executive David Savage.

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Police said a 60-year-old was charged with two counts of knowingly providing misleading information contrary to the Corporations Act.

He was arrested on his release from 14 days in hotel quarantine after returning to Australia from France.

Investigators allege Leighton Offshore, an international arm of Leighton Holdings, funnelled bribes through contractors including Monaco-based Unaoil to secure two oil pipeline construction contracts worth almost US$1.5 billion.

In 2019, two former senior Unaoil executives pleaded guilty to being part of a scheme to bribe foreign government officials in several countries including Azerbaijan, Syria and Iraq.

The latest Australian arrest comes two months after a 54-year-old man was charged with foreign bribery offences in connection to the Leighton allegations.

The Australian Federal Police said Iraqi Ministry of Oil officials and government officials within the South Oil Company of Iraq were targeted in the scheme.

Their nine-year investigation, working with US and UK police, has also resulted in an arrest warrant for a third man who is believed to be overseas.

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