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The Serious Fraud Office confirmed on Friday it has opened an investigation into “the activities of KBR’s UK subsidiaries, their officers, employees and agents for suspected offences of bribery and corruption.”
In a short statement, the anti-fraud agency said that the probe is related to the SFO’s ongoing investigation into the activities of Unaoil, the Monaco-based oil company.
KBR is an engineering, procurement and construction company incorporated in the US and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The company was sold off by Halliburton in 2007 and was a major contractor for the US Pentagon in Iraq and Afghanistan for the past decade. It employs around 34,000 people worldwide and operates in 40 countries.
The SFO’s Unaoil probe was launched last March after a series of reports from Australian newspaper The Age. It reported that Unaoil was used by a number of companies in securing contracts around the world.
In February the SFO issued a statement saying that it had launched an investigation into the UK units of Swiss-Swedish conglomerate group ABB linked to its ongoing probe into Unaoil.
The SFO is the main UK agency dedicated to investigating and prosecuting serious and complex white collar criminal cases.
Earlier this year it emerged that the Cabinet Office is undertaking a sweeping review of the SFO and other UK agencies that combat economic crime which has led to concerns about the future of the SFO.
The anti fraud agency has had a history of run-ins with Theresa May, the prime minister, dating back to her time as home secretary. While at the Home Office, she tried to roll the SFO into the National Crime Agency, a wider crime-fighting body whose budget she controlled.