One of Britain’s leading manufacturing multinational companies, Rolls Royce, hired a network of agents as middlemen to land different contracts around 12 different countries around the world.
The Guardian and the BBC are investigating and have uncovered leaked documents and testimony from the company’s insiders, suggesting that Rolls-Royce may have benefited from bribes to boost profit for years. When questioned about the topic, the company declines to answer to detailed questions.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and other authorities are investigating the bribing and corruption involving intermediaries. Apparently, the agents have been hired in at least 12 countries: Brazil, India, China, Indonesia, South Africa, Angola, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.
Around 30 investigators in the UK are now focused on the company and the scandal that is now occurring around it because of the use of agents, or middlemen, to clinch export contracts in a number of countries across several strands of its business.
The criminal investigation started in 2014 when allegations of bribery and corruption had started. This year, part of the SFO investigation is likely to gyrate around Rolls Royce and Unaoil, a Monaco-based firm that has been accused of using bribes to win contracts in a series of countries for dozens of multinationals, all of this separate from the company’s corruption and money laundering. Leaked documents suggest that Rolls Royce hired Unaoil to seal contracts in Iraq, Iran, Kazakhstan, Angola and Azerbaijan. Another agent hired by Rolls-Royce is Fana Hlongwane, a company close to the South African’s government.
Anti-corruption experts suggest that firms can use well-connected agents to channel bribes to key politicians or officials responsible for presenting contracts.