UK national Jonathan Taylor blew the whistle in 2013 on a $275 million international network of bribes paid by his employers Monaco-based Dutch oil platform company SBM Offshore. His evidence was investigated by the UK Serious Fraud Office, investigators in Brazil and the Netherlands as well as the FBI and the US Department of Justice. This resulted in fines to SBM Offshore of over $800 million.
In July, on holiday in Croatia with his family he was arrested under an Interpol Red Notice – seven years after whistleblowing – by Monaco’s Public Prosecutor on charges of bribery and extortion, charges he denies.
Cindy Taylor, Jonathan’s wife, talks to Protect about her fight to bring him home.
“What should have been a lovely seven-day family holiday in Croatia, ended up with my husband, Jonathan Taylor, being arrested and held in Dubrovnik held in jail for five days with criminals, sharing a cell with a drug dealer, someone who tried to murder their father-in-law and another violent criminal. Out of jail now, he is alone, away from his family in a coastal town ready to hibernate for the winter with restaurants and hotels closing down.
When he was released from jail on bail on 4 August, we all thought that the Court in Dubrovnik would see through the erroneous charges which Monaco had cited and refuse extradition. But when Monaco requested extra days to file the extradition papers, and the Croatian court granted extradition, my heart sank and for the first time I felt true despair. It all seemed a bit surreal, we couldn’t believe it was happening.
By the time this decision came through, two of our children, Abby, 17 and Will, 15, along with Protect, had presented a letter to the Monaco Embassy in London – a letter which I had written to H.S.H. Prince Albert of Monaco pleading with him to intervene so my husband and the children’s father could return home to us. I was in quarantine at the time after travelling back from Dubrovnik after a visit to see Jon, so was unable to do this myself. I was so very proud of them and it brought tears to my eyes. The children cannot understand why this is happening to their father who has done the right thing.
What didn’t bring tears to my eyes, was the response to my letter from Prince Albert’s office. I felt it was a “fob-off”. The letter arrived in a plain envelope, with a hand-stamped “Service de S.A.S. le Prince de Monaco” in the top left corner and typed reply on flimsy white paper from the Head of Cabinet, Georges Lisimachio. I almost felt like it was intentional, akin to conveying “This is not important and doesn’t warrant a response from Prince Albert himself”.
To say the Prince cannot intervene in judicial proceedings is, I guess, understandable, but it doesn’t say that the Prince is aware of the case at all which was my intention – to bring Jon’s situation to his attention. It stated that my letter was forwarded to the Secretary of State for Justice – Director of Judicial Services but didn’t indicate that it was for him/her to respond. Extremely disappointing to say the least as I truly thought I would receive a more substantive response at least acknowledging the existence of Jon’s plight.
Another disappointment is the lack of support from worldwide judicial authorities. After my husband has travelled the world providing core evidence to multiple law enforcement agencies at their request, and who have in turn fined SBM over $US800 million and convicted certain former SBM employees, they have essentially hung my husband out to dry by providing no support whatsoever. What sort of example does this set to other would-be whistle-blowers?
It is over five weeks since an appeal was lodged at the Croatian Supreme Court in Zagreb. We have been told that a decision could take, in rare cases, 10-14 days but generally at least one month but up to two months. I am getting increasingly nervous and worried, not sleeping well but trying to put on a brave face for the children. What if the Supreme Court upholds the decision of the Dubrovnik Court? Logically it couldn’t and shouldn’t in my opinion but nothing has been logic in this whole situation. I try to be optimistic and can’t bear thinking about what if the decision is not in Jon’s favour. My thoughts are consumed by it all and my emotions range from anger, worry, distress, despair. How long will it be before we see him again? Every time one of us goes out to see him, we have to spend 14 days in quarantine on our return – it is a small price to pay yet another obstacle in our way. He is being incredibly strong on the surface, but he is suffering immensely and I am extremely concerned of the effect this is and will be having on him.
We have a truly amazing support network of NGOs, Whistleblowing organisations such as Protect and Whistleblowing International Network, an incredible legal team, journalists and activists who without them, I truly don’t believe we could survive this ordeal. We just want Jon home – he deserves better than this.
Written by Cindy Taylor 14 October 2020