BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The former head of Well Services Operation at Brunei Shell Petroleum (BSP), the country’s largest oil and gas provider, has been charged under the country’s corruption laws with being in possession of “unexplained property”.

The prosecution alleges that between January 1, 2003 and November 27, 2012, the defendant, Ibrahim Abdul Gani, maintained a standard of living beyond his means while employed as an officer with BSP.

Ibrahim was investigated by the Anti-Corruption Bureau and claimed that his wealth was derived mainly from his salary and annual bonuses, as well as insurance premium payouts, bank interests and a multi-level marketing scheme selling corsets.

The defendant added that he had other sources of income from lottery winnings dating back to 2008 and 2009, and investments with the now-defunct Pan Phoenix Dina, a company that was convicted of fraud and illegal deposit-taking back in 2010.

Appearing in court Tuesday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Hjh Anifa Rafiza Hj Abdul Ghani said the defendant had failed to show any documentation relating to the lottery winnings and Pan Phoenix Dina investments.

He is charged under section 12 (1) (a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, which states that any public officer who maintains a standard of living above his present or past emoluments is guilty of an offence if he cannot show how such property or financial resources came under his control.

The prosecution applied for the charge to be read but for no plea to be recorded. The court granted the defendant a one-month adjournment to seek legal representation.

If found guilty, he faces a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a fine of $30,000. Ibrahim was released on bail of $10,000 and is set to appear in court again on December 16.

The case is the latest corruption scandal involving senior officials from BSP.

In 2016, eight former BSP employees were jailed for accepting kickbacks from a Malaysian contractor between 2007 and 2009, which resulted in $5 million in losses to the government-controlled oil company.

In the wake of the graft cases, BSP refreshed its code of conduct and implemented a new anti-bribery management system.

The sultanate’s energy sector also vowed to clean up its act, launching the Brunei Energy Industry Integrity Pact in 2017, a “self-monitoring assessment system” aimed at tackling corruption and improving business integrity.