Serious Fraud Office suspends lawyer in charge of Unaoil investigation

The senior lawyer in charge of an ongoing criminal investigation into Monaco-based oil firm Unaoil has been suspended.

Tom Martin, the lawyer managing the Serious Fraud Office's (SFO) probe into the oil consultancy, has been suspended within the last few weeks for gross misconduct, according to Sky News.

It comes just weeks before the agency's new director Lisa Osofsky takes up her post.

Details of any alleged wrongdoing are yet to emerge and it is unclear whether or not it relates to the case itself.

Read more: SFO brings further charges against two people in Unaoil investigation

The SFO opened its investigation into Unaoil, which provides services in the Middle East, central Asia and Africa, in March 2016.

In June the government department announced it was bringing four charges of corruption against the company in relation to alleged corrupt payments to secure construction contracts in Iraq for two multinationals.

It followed the agency's decision to prosecute four executives with conspiring to make corrupt payments to secure the contracts.

The first pair of charges related to alleged corrupt payments to secure the award of a contract worth £545.5m to Leighton Contractors Singapore to build two oil pipelines in southern Iraq.

The second pair related to alleged corrupt payments to secure contracts in Iraq for SBM Offshore, a Dutch company that manufactures oil platforms, described by the SFO as a Unaoil client.

Read more: Serious Fraud Office charges two in Unaoil investigation

The SFOs Unaoil investigation has drawn in other companies, such as the British subsidiaries of US-listed engineering, procurement and construction group KBR, the British subsidiaries of Swiss engineering company ABB and Petrofac, a UK-listed oilfield services provider.

Unaoil has “vigorously denied” the allegations.

Mr Martin has been a case controller and senior lawyer at the Serious Fraud Office since June 2014.

The SFO has been approached for comment and Tom Martin could not be reached for comment.

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