A British firm is under investigation by the U.K., U.S., Nigeria and Norway for its role in bribing a Norwegian official and a former Nigerian warlord in a multi-million-pound defense deal of seven decommissioned naval vessels. The case's first court verdict based on the allegations will be announced Tuesday in Oslo.
CAS-Global Ltd. bought a hand naval vessel — the KNM Horten — via the U.K. and exported it to a Nigerian company controlled by a former Nigerian warlord. According to Corruption Watch, an anti-bribery group that is set to release a report on the issue on Monday, the newly obtained documents also reveal the role U.K. government played in approving the export license for the deal.
Not much is known about Cas-Global’s business. The Companies House in the U.K. had declared last month that it intended to dissolve the firm that was set up in 2008 as it seemed to be inactive. Cas-Global has already been the subject of an investigation since 2014 by the City of London police’s specialist anti-corruption unit.
The City of London police told the Guardian that its detectives “continue to actively investigate the suspected bribery of a Norwegian public official in connection with the purchase of ex-naval vessels from 2012 onwards. The joint investigation with the Norwegian authorities has led to the arrest of four men.” The city of London police is also "liaising with the American and Nigerian authorities in respect of inquiries connected to financial transfers."
In Norway, the authorities are prosecuting Bjørn Stavrum, a civil servant, for his alleged role in the deal. The authorities claim that Cas-Global paid Stavrum US$154,000 to help secure the sale of the naval vessels but he has denied the claims, the Guardian reported.
But an indictment proves that the Norwegian civil servant was paid the amount in two installments in 2013.
“The payments were improper, among other things because of Stavrum’s position, the amounts involved, and because they were kept hidden from his employer,” according to the indictment.
The prosecutors also allege the payment method was designed to disguise how the vessels were being sold to Government Ekpemupolo, the Niger Delta kingpin.
Paul Holden, Corruption Watch’s investigations director, told the Guardian, “The U.K. government is clearly open to charges of hypocrisy if, on the one hand, it urges countries like Nigeria to fight corruption, while making no effort to prevent corruption in its own export license process.”