Dutch oil and gas company SBM Offshore announced this week that the U.S. Department of Justice has re-opened its past bribery investigation of the company concerning allegations of improper payments made to sales agents and foreign government officials in Equatorial Guinea, Angola, and Brazil.
As Compliance Week previously reported, the company in September 2014 reached a $240 million out-of-court settlement with the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office to resolve allegations that SBM Offshore paid approximately $200 million in commissions to foreign sales agents for services from 2007 through 2011. The largest part of these commissions, totaling $180.6 million, related to Equatorial Guinea, Angola, and Brazil.
At the time, SBM said the Justice Department closed its inquiry into the matter without prosecuting the company—but in an earnings statement, released on Feb. 10, said that the Justice Department has “made information requests in connection with that inquiry.”
“Over the course of 2015, discussions with Brazilian authorities and Petrobras have progressed to the point where the company is providing US$245 million for a possible settlement,” SBM said. “While discussions are at an advanced stage, timing of a settlement announcement as well as the size of any potential final settlement amount remain to be confirmed.”
Below is a timeline of SBM’s investigation activity:
Dec. 17, 2015: The Brazilian Public Prosecutor’s Office made allegations regarding several people in Brazil and abroad, including a number of current and former employees of the company, of whom one is a U.S. citizen.
Jan. 15, 2016: SMB was informed that the judge in Brazil referred the above allegations with regard to the Company’s CEO and a member of its Supervisory Board back to the Public Prosecutor to propose an out-of-court settlement, on a no admission of guilt basis.
Jan. 25, 2016: SBM announced the settlement of the allegations made regarding the company’s CEO and a member of its Supervisory Board. This settlement is still subject to approval by the court.
“The company is seeking further clarification about the scope of the inquiry,” SBM said. It added that it “remains committed to close-out discussions on this legacy issue.”