May 2, 2017 / 3:53 PM / 3 years ago

UK's SFO charges Bertling unit and five in oil bribery case

A sign is displayed in an unmarked Serious Fraud Office vehicle parked outside a building, in Mayfair, central London March 9, 2011. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

LONDON (Reuters) - The UK division of German logistics and freight company Bertling and five people have been charged with conspiracy to pay or accept bribes in a UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) inquiry into a North Sea oil exploration project.

The SFO alleged on Tuesday that Robert McNally, Georgina Ayres, Giuseppe Morreale, Stephen Emler and F.H. Bertling Ltd conspired together and with others to win or retain freight forwarding contracts in a project called Jasmine between January 2010 and May 2013.

The four each face one charge of conspiracy to give or accept corrupt payments. The SFO added that a fifth person, Christopher Lane, had also been charged with a separate count of conspiracy to give or accept corrupt payments.

The individuals and representatives for the company have been told to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on May 19.

It is the second time the SFO, which investigates and prosecutes high-level fraud, bribery and corruption, has filed charges against the Bertling division.

Seven individuals and F.H. Bertling Ltd were charged last July with making corrupt payments to an agent of Angolan state oil group Sonangol between January 2005 and December 2006 in an investigation that began in September 2014.

Hamburg-headquartered Bertling Group is a 150-year-old private company that specialises in shipping and chartering, logistics and freight forwarding and related IT services. It has a presence in 35 countries around the world.

Freight forwarders coordinate and ship goods using single or multiple air, marine, rail or highway carriers.

Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; editing by David Clarke

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