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Fraud office secures fine for FH Bertling over bribes for $20m Angola oil deal

FH Bertling, the former UK division of the German logistics firm, has been fined £850,000 for bribing its way to a lucrative oil contract in Angola.

An investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) found the firm bribed an official of state oil firm Sonangol $350,000 in order to secure $20m worth of shipping contracts.

The activity took place between 2004 and 2006.

The SFO opened its investigation into FH Bertling in 2014 following allegations of bribery to secure a ConocoPhillips freight forwarding contract at the Jasmine field in the UK North Sea worth £16m.

A series of convictions have been made against the company and its employees following the SFO’s investigations into the Angola and North Sea activities

On the fine, Judge Christopher Hehir said: “This was a very serious piece of corruption indeed. It was planned and systematic.

“The corruption of a public official brings huge risks of environmental and social harm as well as damaging and corrupting the commercial environment.”

FH Bertling, now in liquidation, was a UK-based subsidiary of Bertling Group, which has headquarters in Germany.

In total, 13 individuals were charged as part of the SFO’s investigation into activities in the North sea and Angola, with nine convicted of one of more charges and four individuals acquitted.

Prior to the trial on the Angola case, senior executives Joerg Blumberg, Dirk Juergensen, Marc Schweiger, Ralf Petersen (now deceased), Stephen Emler, Guiseppe Morreale and the company pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pay bribes.

One defendant, Peter Ferdinand was acquitted.

Bertling Group has been contacted for comment.

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