Muscat Daily today carried on it's front page the latest instalment into the Ahmed al Wahaibi corruption charges. The Supreme Court has quashed the judgement of a lower court on charges brought on allegations of bribery, money laundering and abuse of power. Ahmed al Wahaibi used to be the CEO of the Oman Oil Company, and it was during his time as CEO that the prosecution allege the naughty stuff took place.
For those that don't remember the details of the case, I blogged about it last year in March when the sentence was handed down by the Court of First Instance. It was 10 years & RO 4 million for accepting bribes, 10 years for money laundering and 3 years and RO 1 million for abuse of office. 23 years and RO 5 million, a rather large amount of cheddar.
So, obviously, when getting hit with that kind of judgement, Ahmed kicked the case upstairs to the Court of Appeal, who also found him guilty of all counts. Not accepting this (and considering the stakes who blames the man) he kicked it upstairs again to the Supreme Court for an appeal.... and today we learned the outcome of it! A total quashing of ALL the charges and a re-trial set for next week, on the 16th of February. With, and get this, a fresh panel of judges.
It strikes me as odd as the other 2 people connected to this case, a Korean man (from LG) who did the bribing (to win a $1 billion petrochemical Contract in Sohar) by the name of Mr Myung Jao Yoo and Ahmed al Wahaibi's assistant, Adel al-Raisi, have both admitted to the bribe and the money laundering.
The case, is, in a nutshell like this: LG wanted to win the gig in Sohar, and so Mr Myung (vice-CEO of LGI) popped over to Muscat and had a chat with Mr Wahaibi. Then miraculously $8million turned up in a Caribbean registered company owned by Mr Wahaibi, who then very kindly gave Mr Myung a "birthday gift" along with some cash to his assistant Mr Raisi.
Now it turns out that Ahmed al Wahaibi didn't know why a tendering company would accidentally drop $8 million into his Caribbean registered bank account while he had a tender out for a $1 billion Contract and then felt very generous giving some of this money away again, before stashing the rest of it in a Swiss bank account. He apparently admits that it was a mistake to accept the monetary gift (of $8 million - who the hell gives people they don't know $8 million!!!) but that this had nothing to do with his work (and subsequent award of the $1 billion contract to LG). It's all been a big misunderstanding you see.
And so the wheels turn. Meanwhile Mr Myung and Mr Raisi continue to serve their sentences in the Sumail Shangri-la.
More on the 16th February then I guess.