ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Alleging a multi-million dollar fraud scheme, Alaska oil giant ConocoPhillips is suing a former employee who the company says used fake companies and fake invoices to steal roughly $7.3 million.
A federal civil lawsuit filed Thursday details an intricate scheme where shell companies allegedly billed ConocoPhillips for services that weren’t performed and supplies that weren’t delivered.
Over $4 million was then allegedly transferred into large real-estate purchases in Nevada. Houses were also bought in Anchorage with the embezzled funds, the suit alleges.
According to court documents, the fraud took place over a span of months throughout 2019 and “will continue into the future” if it isn’t stopped by law enforcement.
No criminal charges have been filed in the case but Steve Forrest, a spokesperson for the Anchorage-based office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, confirmed that the agency is investigating the allegations.
Five individuals, including former ConocoPhillips employee Forrest Wright, his wife, father-in-law and Anchorage Police Department Officer Nathan Keays his wife, along with three companies, are named as defendants.
Keays joined APD in 2005 and has worked as a K9 handler.
MJ Thim, the communications director for APD, wrote in an email that “Nathan Keays has been placed on paid administrative leave due to his involvement in a federal investigation and pending internal investigation.”
“At this time, APD has no reason to believe this investigation involves Officer Keays’ official duties with APD,” Thim wrote, continuing to say that any further questions should be directed to the FBI.
Keays' wife Kelly said on social media that she has no comment about the allegations at this time. According to the lawsuit, Wright, a senior drilling and wells planner with ConocoPhillips, abruptly resigned on Dec. 5.
Attorneys for ConocoPhillips are asking the court to award the company triple the damages that were incurred by the alleged fraud.
Jill Burke contributed to this report.
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