British whistleblower Jonathan Taylor has lifted the lid once again on corruption involving revenues emanating from the major British oil company BP, as reported in today’s Daily Telegraph.
Jonathan, a UK citizen, is currently fighting extradition to Monaco. On arrival in Croatia on a family holiday in July 2020, he was initially detained and has been fighting his case through the Croatian Courts. He has remained in Croatia appealing this decision for 10 months. There he remains, away from his family, having lost his job, unable to support himself and his family economically. Disappointingly, the UK Government to date has only sought assurances that he’ll be treated fairly if extradited, but has not called on Monaco to withdraw the extradition request.
Jonathan is a whistleblower who in 2013 previously disclosed information about an international network of corrupt payments made by oil firm SBM Offshore that had its main office in Monaco, (where he worked as an in-house lawyer). SBM Offshore have paid over $800m in fines in the United States, the Netherlands and Brazil. He is wanted for questioning in Monaco, over allegations made by his former employer during settlement negotiations over 7 years ago.
Jonathan denies wrongdoing, and his lawyers state that there is no legal basis for extraditing Jonathan for questioning as he is neither charged with nor convicted of any offences.
Monaco to date has failed to initiate a single criminal investigation into any of the concerns Jonathan raised. Other countries have taken action on the bribery and corruption disclosures with successful prosecutions. Instead, Monaco has targeted the one person who blew the whistle and brought public scrutiny to such widespread financial crimes. This is clear retaliation for Jonathan’s successful whistleblowing.
Jonathan’s new disclosures reported in the Daily Telegraph, which has seen documents from the Dutch listed SBM Offshore, showing that in November 2011, BP wired a cancellation fee involving oil platforms from SBM at the Paenal shipyard in Angola.
The Daily Telegraph’s story is part of a wider investigation by Finance Uncovered, De Telegraaf in the Netherlands, Expresso in Portugal and the Telegraph in the United Kingdom, where Jonathan has been indirectly assisting the investigation with the information he has unearthed. All the publications will be publishing their findings over the course of the weekend, tracking the trail of money and promises that comes from BP and ends up with a Panamanian company.
The Daily Telegraph go on to report: ‘Two months later, SBM signed a contract agreeing that, after deducting certain costs, the remaining $70.3 million would be shared, on an equal basis, between it and a secretive Panamanian company called Sonangol International Inc (SII). Although the company has a name very similar to the Angolan state oil company, it is a separate legal entity with a bank account in Portugal. There is no suggestion this agreement was reached with BP’s knowledge or consent.’
There is growing pressure on the UK’s Serious Fraud Office to carry out an investigation. Margaret Hodge MP, who is Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption said: “This is an extraordinary chain of events. There are a number of questions that need to be properly answered by BP. What were they doing handing over $100m without knowing where it was ultimately going? Has BP’s auditors checked the company was not breaking the law and has the SFO investigated this matter fully? The British government needs to make sure there is no loophole that means people can bypass bribery legislation.”
The Government need to press for Jonathan’s release
Protect is calling on the Government to call for the immediate release of Jonathan Taylor. Andrew Pepper-Parsons, Head of Policy at Protect, said “These latest disclosures from Jonathan Taylor show just how vital whistleblowers are to revealing corruption. Despite this, Mr Taylor has been held in Croatia for 10 months facing extradition on baseless claims. It is a clear abuse of process which threatens to set back whistleblowing years and sends a terrifying message to whistleblowers across the continent. The UK government needs to take a more robust stance. It must secure Mr Taylor’s safe return home and call on the Monegasque authorities to drop the extradition”.
By Andrew Pepper-Parsons