Oil whistleblower stuck in Croatia 'accused of extortion bid'

Published
image captionJonathan Taylor said old accusations of attempted extortion had been "resuscitated"

An oil industry whistleblower who has been stuck in Croatia since his arrest six months ago is accused of attempted extortion, the Monaco authorities say.

Jonathan Taylor, from Southampton, who lifted the lid on bribery at his old employer SBM Offshore, was arrested on an Interpol red licence in July.

The Monegasque authorities want to extradite him for questioning about claims he demanded money to keep quiet.

Mr Taylor, who has not been charged with any offence, denies the claims.

In 2012, Mr Taylor - a lawyer - provided evidence about bribes being offered in return for lucrative contracts at Dutch oil firm SBM Offshore.

He said he was subsequently accused of extortion, relating to "a usual negotiation" between Monegasque lawyers which was "for using counsel and not an attempt to extort".

He said the matter was subsequently withdrawn by SBM Offshore.

image copyrightEPA
image captionMonaco hosts an SBM Offshore regional centre

In July, Mr Taylor was detained after arriving in Dubrovnik for a family holiday.

His wife and children returned home but he remains in legal limbo, unable to leave Zagreb, while the Croatian authorities decide whether he can be extradited.

On Saturday, he missed his daughter's 18th birthday.

He said: "I desperately want to go home. I have no idea when I will be released or where I will be released to but you have to maintain mental strength otherwise you go bananas.

"You've got to bear in mind the corruption that I exposed - over $250m in five years alone of paid bribes to win oil contracts.

"However, nothing has been done by the Monaco authorities to seek justice in relation to the many individuals that were involved in this whole elaborate scheme.

"It does lead me to feel very doubtful as to whether I will indeed receive a fair trial."

Following Mr Taylor's evidence, SBM Offshore agreed a $240m (£186m) settlement with the Dutch authorities. It paid a similar sum to settle a case in the US.

SBM Offshore previously said it had not influenced the extradition request.

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