UK condemns firing of ballistic missiles from Yemen into Saudi Arabia

International Development Secretary for the UK Penny Mordaunt sees UK aid for Yemen in a WFP warehouse in Djibouti. (Photo: UK Department for International Development - DIFD/Benet Coulber)
Updated 17 January 2018

UK condemns firing of ballistic missiles from Yemen into Saudi Arabia

LONDON: The International Development Secretary for the UK Penny Mordaunt has condemned the firing of ballistic missiles from Yemen toward Saudi Arabia and also called for continued commercial and aid access throughout Yemen‎.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Mordaunt, who visited Saudi Arabia and Djibouti in December to call for access and meet aid workers, said: “I heard about some of the heartbreaking tragedies suffered by Yemenis when I met with refugees and international aid workers last month.
“I am pleased restrictions on access have since been eased at the ports of Hodeidah and Saleef, allowing 19 ships to deliver food and critical fuel. This is already saving lives by ensuring hospitals can continue delivering essential medical care, water can be pumped into major cities, grain can continue to be milled into flour and food transported to those most in need.
“But the situation in Yemen remains dire and will deteriorate rapidly unless unhindered access is maintained, especially to the north of the country.
“With Yemen importing 90% of its food and fuel, it’s essential that Hodeidah and Saleef ports remain fully open to help millions of people who are at risk.
“We recognize Saudi Arabia’s legitimate security concerns and will continue to provide support to prevent illegal arms smuggling into Yemen – this does not require stopping humanitarian and commercial supplies from reaching those in need.
“The UK Government strongly condemns the continued firing of ballistic missiles from Yemen toward Saudi Arabia. We continue to support Saudi Arabia to strengthen efforts to prevent the flow of illegal weapons by providing extra UK support to the UN’s Verification and Inspection Mechanism.
“We are also engaging with Saudi Arabia’s plans to develop an operational humanitarian plan for Yemen.”
Since access reopened, 19 ships have been permitted to enter Hodeidah and Saleef ports, unloading 260,000 metric tons of food and over 95,000 metric tons of fuel. The UK is the second-largest humanitarian donor to the UN’s Yemen Appeal behind Saudi Arabia and third-largest donor overall.


Former Unaoil managers convicted in Britain of Iraq bribery

Updated 38 min 35 sec ago

Former Unaoil managers convicted in Britain of Iraq bribery

  • The verdict marks a milestone in the British arm of a 4-year, global inquiry

LONDON: Two former managers of Monaco-based energy consultancy Unaoil have been convicted in Britain of bribing Iraqi officials to clinch lucrative oil projects as the war-ravaged country tried to boost exports after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The verdict marks a milestone in the British arm of a four-year, global inquiry into how Unaoil, once run by the prominent Ahsani family, helped major Western companies secure energy projects across the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa over two decades.
A London jury found British-Lebanese Ziad Akle, Unaoil’s former Iraq territory manager, and Stephen Whiteley, a British former manager for Iraq, Kazakhstan and Angola, guilty of plotting to make corrupt payments to secure oil contracts between 2005 and 2010.
But after a marathon 19 days of deliberations, the jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case against Paul Bond, a British one-time Middle East sales manager for Dutch-based oil and gas services company SBM Offshore. He faces a retrial, the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) confirmed on Monday.
The three men denied any wrongdoing.
The judge lifted reporting restrictions on Monday after a drawn-out trial that was suspended in March as the coronavirus brought parts of the criminal justice system to a halt, and restarted in May in a new court to allow jurors to socially distance.
“These men dishonestly and corruptly took advantage of a government reeling from dictatorship and occupation and trying to reconstruct a war-torn state,” said SFO head Lisa Osofsky following the verdicts against Akle and Whiteley.
“They abused the system to cut out competitors and line their own pockets.”
The agency has now secured three convictions in the case after Basil Al Jarah, Unaoil’s 71-year-old former country manager for Iraq, pleaded guilty last year.
The principal suspects in the case, brothers Cyrus and Saman Ahsani, evaded British investigators and pleaded guilty to bribery in the United States after an extradition battle in Italy in 2018.
Akle, 45, Whiteley, 65, and Al Jarah will be sentenced on July 22 and 23, the SFO said.
BRIBERY
Prosecutors said the defendants had conspired with others to pay bribes to public officials at the Iraqi South Oil Company and, in Al Jarah’s case, Iraqi Ministry of Oil representatives, to secure oil contracts for Unaoil and its clients.
Al Jarah admitted to paying more than $6 million in bribes to secure contracts worth $800 million to supply oil pipelines and offshore mooring buoys. Akle and Whiteley were found guilty of paying more than $500,000 in bribes to secure a $55 million contract for offshore mooring buoys.
In his defense, Akle said payments were authorized for security purposes. Whiteley denied knowing about payments but said he wanted a “level playing field” during a competitive tender.
A lawyer for Whiteley was unable to comment and legal representatives for Akle and Bond did not immediately respond to requests for comment.