Former exec’s $84m bribery plot: court

A former executive of an Australian infrastructure giant has been hit with a fresh charge over an alleged $84m bribery plot.

A former executive at Australian infrastructure giant Leighton Holdings was aided by the boss of a leading Tanzanian construction company as he bribed his way to an $84m contract in the east African nation, court documents allege.

The Australian Federal Police announced on Tuesday it had laid a fresh charge against Russell John Waugh, once a senior figure Leighton Holdings’s Singapore-based offshoot.

The AFP alleges Mr Russell, the former managing director of Leighton Offshore, masterminded plots to bribe Iraqi government officials to secure two massive oil contracts worth $1.8b.

The 54-year-old was arrested in Brisbane in November and charged with four offences, including conspiring to bribe a foreign public official, falsifying company books and knowingly providing misleading information.

Mr Waugh has now been hit with a fresh foreign bribery charge over a separate alleged plot to win a contract with the Tanzanian Port Authority in 2009 and 2010 through $4m in “suspicious” payments.

“Police allege public officials in the Tanzania Ports Authority responsible for awarding the contract were the targets of the bribery scheme,” the AFP said in a statement.

The investigation allegedly identified about $US4 million ($5.05m) in suspicious payments incorporated into Leighton Offshore subcontracts with third-party contractors.

Mr Waugh was excused from appearing at Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday where the fresh charge was mentioned before his case was adjourned to May.

Documents lodged with the court shed light on the identity of alleged accomplices in the suspected plot to win a contract for a single point mooring replacement project in Tanzania worth $US66.48m ($83.93m).

Among those named in court papers are Tanzanian Kishor Shapriya, managing director of construction company DB Shapriya & Co, and Indian ex-Leighton consultant Packianathan Srikumar.

The Dar es Salaam-based DB Shapriya is one of the leading oil and gas contractors in Tanzania, and has been directed by Mr Shapriya since 1980.

Mr Srikumar has been previously been linked to Mr Waugh and Mr Savage’s alleged corruption in media reports.

Dissolved Singaporean engineering firm Lye Singapore is also implicated in the plot, which allegedly ran between May 2009 and December 2010, the documents allege.

The AFP said in a statement it worked closely with international law enforcement partners and the Tanzanian Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau during the six-year investigation to seize more than one million documents and obtain evidence from five countries.

Leighton Holdings is now known as CIMIC group.

Mr Waugh was the first of its former employees arrested as part of the AFP’s long-running Operation Trig, which also snared Leighton Holdings’s former chief operating officer David Savage in January.

Police have also issued an arrest warrant for ex-Leighton Offshore chief executive Peter Alan Cox, who is also named in court documents over the alleged oil plots in Iraq.

Mr Waugh’s matter will return to court on May 4.

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