UK Tory donor gets UKEF backing despite major fraud investigation

(The Independent, London, 27 September 2019) An oil company run by Ayman Asfari, the chief executive of Petrofac, a major Tory donor who met with Boris Johnson, has had a billion pound deal underwritten by UK Export Finance (UKEF) despite it being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office. Despite the company being embroiled in scandal, it has secured a £733.5m loan guarantee from  UKEF which is responsible for underwriting the loan which helped secure a £1.6bn contract to develop the Duqm refinery project in Oman. According to Electoral Commission figures, Mr Asfari and his wife have donated £860,450 in cash to the party since 2009. Petrofac’s former global head of sales, David Lufkin, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of bribery earlier this year after offering cash payments to middlemen to secure lucrative refinery contracts worth £4.2bn in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In 2017 the UK Serious Fraud Office launched an investigation into Petrofac relating to suspected bribery, corruption and money laundering. UKEF is not the only ECA supporting this project. The Dutch company Boskalis Westminster Dredging BV received an export credit insurance from Atradius DSB on 15 January 2018 for the “Design, procurement and construction of marine infrastructure and dredging works. Duqm Liquid Bulk Berths project. Port of Duqm, Al Wusta region. The project entails a new liquid bulk terminal to handle the import and export of crude and other hydrocarbons.”