A South Korean businessman was sentenced to a 10-year prison term in Oman for bribing an executive of an Omani state-run oil company, a conviction that he strongly denies and plans to appeal, the South Korean Embassy and news reports said Sunday.
The 60-year-old businessman, the vice president of a South Korean conglomerate's Middle East regional unit, was sentenced by an Omani court on Feb. 27 and fined 4 million rial ($10.4 million), the South Korean Embassy told Yonhap.
The names of the businessman and the trading firm were both withheld.
Charges against the vice president say that he gave bribes worth $8 million to Ahmed Bin Salim Al Wahaibi, the CEO of the Oman Oil Company, after winning a $1.3 billion order from the Omani firm in 2006 to construct a petrochemical plant in the city of Sohar, according to local news reports.
The businessman and his firm are arguing that the money was given as a consulting fee to a separate company and that they did not know the firm was also headed by the same CEO of the oil company.
"It was an appropriately paid consulting fee, and we do not know where the money went afterwards," an official at the South Korean company said. "We are planning to lodge an appeal as it's clearly not a bribe."
According to news reports, the Omani CEO was sentenced to 23 years in prison and fined 5 million rial while a former Omani economic ministry secretary was sentenced to a 10-year prison term for arranging the meeting between the CEO and the South Korean businessman. (Yonhap)