Tuesday 22 June 2021 / 2:57 PM Anneliese Dodds / Cronyism

Labour calls on Conservatives to return six-figure donation from CEO of company facing corruption probe

Labour has called on the Conservatives to return hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations from the former CEO of a UK-based company under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) for suspected bribery, corruption and money-laundering.

Ayman Asfari, chief executive of oil firm Petrofac for almost twenty years until the end of 2020, and his wife Sawsan donated almost £900,000 to the Conservative Party between 2009 and 2017. The last of those donations were made on 4 May 2017, just days before the SFO launched an investigation into the firm.

Asfari was recently described by Petrofac as “the public face of the company” and “the personification of its achievements”. He continues to be a major shareholder and sits on the Petrofac board as a non-executive director.

Anneliese Dodds MP, Chair of the Labour Party, has written to her counterpart Amanda Milling to ask the Conservatives to return the money in light of the SFO investigation and Asfari’s continued connection to Petrofac.

It follows media reports that the SFO has widened its investigation into Petrofac amid allegations that million-pound bribes were paid over more than fifteen years to secure contracts in nine countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

David Lufkin, a former senior Petrofac official, has already pleaded guilty to working with Petrofac employees to offer or pay bribes totalling $80m (£57m) to win contracts worth a total of $7.5bn in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.

Anneliese Dodds MP, Labour Party Chair, said:

“The Conservatives must explain why they accepted so much cash from Ayman Asfari – a man described by the scandal-hit Petrofac as “the personification of many of its achievements”.

“The public will also be wondering why senior Tory ministers – including a sitting Prime Minister – then lobbied on behalf of this company, which is now under investigation for bribery and corruption.

“This is about the company that the Conservatives are keeping and where they’re getting their money from. They should do the right thing and hand back that cash.”