The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has arrested a second man in relation to a long-running foreign bribery investigation. A 60-year-old man appeared in Sydney Central Local Court via video link after being arrested following his exit from hotel quarantine in Sydney.
He has been identified by media outlets as former Leighton Holdings chief operating officer, David Savage.
According to the AFP, Savage arrived back in Australia on 27 December 2020 from France and immediately entered hotel quarantine. Once this was completed, officers arrested him in the hotel’s basement carpark.
Knowingly provided misleading information
He has been charged with two counts of knowingly providing misleading information contrary to sections 1309 (1) of the Corporations Act 2001.
The AFP is investigating allegations that the construction group, now known as CIMIC, used payments of up to $100 million to win contracts to rebuild war-torn Iraq’s energy infrastructure after the 2003 US invasion.
Another former Leighton executive, Russell Waugh (54), was arrested in Brisbane in November 2020. A warrant of arrest has also been issued for a third, unnamed, man who is aged 62.
The AFP investigation began in November 2011 following the receipt of a report from Australian-registered company Leighton Holdings Limited about alleged improper payments made by Singapore-registered operating entity Leighton Offshore Pty Ltd, regarding two contracts with Iraq Crude Oil Export in 2010 and 2011.
Project to develop oil pipelines in post-war Iraq
Operation Trig commenced as a result of the information received from Leighton Holdings Limited.
The investigation revealed two contracts for the development and installation of onshore and offshore oil pipelines designed to increase the capacity of Iraq’s crude oil export.
For Leighton Offshore Pty Ltd to be awarded the two contracts, which had a combined value of approximately USD1.46-billion, approvals were required from the Iraqi Ministry of Oil and the South Oil Company of Iraq.
AFP investigators will allege Leighton Offshore Pty Ltd funnelled bribes through entities associated with Iyer-associated companies and Unaoil to guarantee approvals for the Iraq Crude Oil Export contracts.
Bribes were allegedly paid to various officials
Police will allege the key targets of the bribery scheme were Iraqi Ministry of Oil officials and government officials within the South Oil Company of Iraq.
The investigation identified approximately USD77.6-million in suspicious payments made via third-party contractors.
AFP officers, working in close collaboration with international law enforcement – specifically the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office, the United States Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation – throughout the nine-year long investigation have seized more than two million documents related to the projects and obtained evidence from 10 countries.