AFP arrests Russell Waugh after Australia's longest running bribery scandal. Picture: AFP
AFP arrests Russell Waugh after Australia's longest running bribery scandal. Picture: AFP

Former QLD exec arrested over billion-dollar foreign bribe

A Brisbane man has been arrested and will face court over a billion-dollar bribery scandal involving allegations of payments to Iraqi officials to gain lucrative oil contracts.

Former Leighton Holdings executive Russell Waugh, 54, is one of three men who will face charges following a decade-long investigation involving the Australian Federal Police, the FBI and the UK's serious fraud office.

The AFP said this morning it had also issued arrest warrants for two men living overseas - a 60-year-old man and a 62-year-old man - over the bribery scandal.

AFP arrest's Russell Waugh after Australia's longest running bribery investigation. Picture: AFP
AFP arrest's Russell Waugh after Australia's longest running bribery investigation. Picture: AFP

The investigation began in 2011 after Australian company Leighton Holdings Limited reported allegations of "improper payments" made by Singapore-registered Leighton Offshore Pty Ltd.

The information from Leighton Holdings alleged the payments had been made to secure two contracts with Iraq Crude Oil Export in 2010 and 2011.

The AFP alleges its investigation found bribes of $USD 77.6 million were paid to Iraqi government officials to secure the contracts, worth $USD 1.46 billion combined.

"The investigation revealed two contracts for the development and installation of onshore and offshore oil pipelines designed to increase the capacity of Iraq's crude oil export," an AFP statement said.

"Police will allege the key targets of the bribery scheme were Iraqi Ministry of Oil officials and government officials within the South Oil Company of Iraq."

The long-running and complex probe has seen more than two million documents seized, and evidence obtained from 10 countries.

Russell Waugh is one of three men expected to be arrested following the long-running investigation. Picture: AFP
Russell Waugh is one of three men expected to be arrested following the long-running investigation. Picture: AFP

But the AFP said it was key witness statements that allowed charges to be laid to bring the men before the court.

Waugh was this morning charged with two foreign bribery offences, and one charge of allegedly engaging in conduct to falsify books linked to the corporation.

AFP Deputy Commissioner Investigations Ian McCartney said foreign bribery investigations required strong collaboration with international law enforcement partners to combat corruption on a global scale.

"Operation Trig investigators demonstrated outstanding resilience over the past nine years," Deputy Commissioner McCartney said.

"They persevered through the painstaking process of piecing this jigsaw together from facts and allegations of alleged corruption that reached internationally, to a level that allowed us to bring this before the court in Australia.

"Their determination to ensure acts of alleged corruption are held to account is a testament to the dedication, skill and tenacious approach of AFP members, and the strength of our partnerships worldwide."

Russell Waugh was arrested by the AFP at his Brisbane home. Picture: Supplied
Russell Waugh was arrested by the AFP at his Brisbane home. Picture: Supplied

The AFP has not ruled out further arrests or charges, with investigations continuing.

On Waugh's LinkedIn profile, he described himself as having more than 30 years experience in the oil and gas construction industries in Australia and overseas.

He listed himself as a managing director of Leighton International from 2004 to 2012.

Waugh is expected to front the Brisbane Magistrates Court this morning.



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