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Second conviction quashed on appeal in Iraq ‘bribery’ case

Paul Bond’s appeal was granted by judges.

Jess Glass
Thursday 24 March 2022 18:48 GMT
General view of the Royal Courts of Justice(Andrew Matthews/PA)
General view of the Royal Courts of Justice(Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Archive)

A second man jailed for three and a half years over a multimillion-dollar bribery conspiracy to secure oil infrastructure contracts in Iraq has had his conviction quashed by the Court of Appeal.

Paul Bond, 69, was originally convicted for involvement in an alleged plot to pay out bribes totalling six million US dollars (£4.9 million) to politicians and state-owned companies after Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.

The former secondary school teacher was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to give corrupt payments following a prosecution brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Mr Bond was convicted for his alleged role in the conspiracy alongside Stephen Whiteley, Basil Al-Jarah and Ziad Akle.

In December last year, Mr Akle had his conviction overturned after three senior judges found that the SFO “failed fundamentally” to provide documents that “had a clear potential to embarrass the SFO in their prosecution of this case” related to the agency’s contact with US citizen David Tinsley.

The Court of Appeal was told that Mr Tinsley had acted as a “fixer” for the founder of Unaoil, British-Iranian Ata Ahsani, and his two sons.

The court heard Mr Tinsley had contact with the director of the SFO, Lisa Osofsky, and indicated to the agency that he had contacted Mr Akle and Al-Jarah to discuss their pleas.

A prisoners hand pokes through bars (Andrew Parsons/PA) (PA Archive)

Senior judges previously said the SFO “should have had nothing to do with” Mr Tinsley.

On Thursday, Mr Bond challenged his conviction on similar grounds as Mr Akle.

Granting the appeal, Lord Justice Holroyde, sitting with Mr Justice Jay and Mr Justice Bennathan, found that the SFO’s failure to disclose the documents had rendered the conviction unsafe.

“The applicant was prevented from presenting his case in its best light and as such his conviction is unsafe,” he ruled.

Following the ruling, Mary Monson Solicitors, who represented Mr Bond, said they were “grateful but not remotely surprised” that his appeal was successful.

A spokesperson added: “Elements of the case against him reeked from the start.

“The conduct of the SFO, including those who made the crucial decisions regarding disclosure of this material, displayed an institutional arrogance which betrayed an air of untouchability.

“It seems other-worldly that the director of the SFO herself could have seen fit to meet with David Tinsley and correspondent regularly with him during the case.”

They continued: “He has lived a blameless life, yet found himself tangled up in this illegitimate prosecution.

“He spent one year and 23 days locked in a prison cell for more than 23 hours each day.

“This injustice was only made possible by the tapping up of his co-defendants by the very agency which was prosecuting him, overseen and specifically encouraged by that organisation’s boss Lisa Osofsky.”

An Serious Fraud Office spokesman said: “We are disappointed by today’s decision and are co-operating fully with Sir David Calvert-Smith’s review”.

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