* Unaoil is Monaco-based energy services company
* US, Britain, Australia investigate Unaoil -media
* Report says Unaoil denies any wrongdoing
* Report links oil companies to corrupt practices (Adds Serious Fraud Office, Eni comment)
SYDNEY/MILAN, April 1 (Reuters) - Monaco authorities raided the offices of Unaoil, an energy services company, and the homes of its directors after Britain asked for help investigating alleged corruption in the global oil industry.
Monaco’s government said on its website that it acted after receiving an urgent request for international judicial assistance in criminal matters from Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO). Unaoil directors were questioned by Monaco police on Tuesday and Wednesday, the government said.
A joint report by Australia’s Fairfax Media and the Huffington Post reported that the U.S. Department of Justice and anti-corruption police in Britain and Australia had launched a joint investigation into the activities of Unaoil.
Monaco-based Unaoil provides industrial solutions to the energy sector in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa, according to its website. It could not immediately be reached for comment, but the report quoted the company as denying any wrongdoing.
The chairman of Unaoil Group, Ata Ahsani, also could not be reached for comment.
The media reports, citing hundreds of thousands of emails, also link several multinationals to corrupt practices including claims of bribery and rigging contracts to win oil contracts in countries such as Kazakhstan and Iraq.
Italian oil major Eni, one of the companies mentioned in the report, indicated that it would hold an internal inquiry into the allegations.
“We do not comment on the results of possible internal investigations,” a spokesman for ENI said.
The alleged behaviour of some of its employees was to the detriment of the group and clashed with its code of ethics, the spokesman said.
“None of the people mentioned in the articles are currently employed by Eni,” the spokesman said in an emailed response to Reuters about the report.
A spokesman for Britain’s SFO said it was “aware of the allegations” but would not comment further.
Australian agencies were aware of allegations of the involvement of a number of Australian companies in foreign bribery matters, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
The AFP said it was conducting ongoing investigations into a number of allegations, but declined to comment specifically on the focus of its probes.
Australian companies WorleyParsons and Primary Health Care, both named in the media reports, denied any relationship with Unaoil.
Australia’s opposition party leader Bill Shorten said he will push for a senate inquiry into global bribery when parliament resumes this month. He said the “revelations” were “deeply disturbing.”
The U.S. Department of Justice cited its policy of declining to confirm nor deny whether a matter is under investigation and declined to comment further. (Reporting by Byron Kaye, Jane Wardell and James Regan in Sydney. Additional reporting by Julia Harte in Washington,; Rachel Armstrong in London and Stephen Jewkes and Oleg Vukmanovic in Milan; Editing by Ed Davies and Susan Fenton)
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