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SEC Charges Second Pride Exec

The former country manager in Venezuela for Pride International, Inc. last week settled civil FCPA charges with the SEC.

Joe Summers, a U.S. citizen who lives in John Day, Oregon, agreed to pay a civil penalty of $25,000.

From 2003 to 2005, Summers arranged payments of about $384,000 to third-party companies, “believing that all or a portion of the funds would be given to an official of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company in order to secure extensions of three drilling contracts.” Summers also approved a $30,000 payment through an intermediary to an employee of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company to obtain the payment of receivables.

Summers’ former employer, Pride International, said in February this year it has set aside $56.2 million for an expected settlement with the DOJ and SEC of FCPA offenses. The Houston-based oil-rig operator first disclosed potential compliance problems in 2006.

In December last year, the SEC accused a former Pride vice president, Bobby Benton, of violating the FCPA. The civil complaint against Benton alleged among other things that he deleted references in Pride’s audits to about $384,000 in payments made by “the manager of the Venezuelan branch of a French subsidiary of Pride” to third-party companies. Pride self-disclosed the payments and cover-up after it learned about them through its internal investigation. The SEC’s complaint against Summers included details about the Venezuelan bribes.

Pride has also disclosed that it found evidence of illegal payments from 2001 through 2006 directly or indirectly to government officials in Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Brazil, India, Nigeria, Libya, Angola, and the Republic of the Congo. The payments related to clearing rigs and equipment through customs, resolving customs disputes, immigration, tax, licensing, and merchant marine issues.

The SEC’s complaint against Summers charged him with violating Sections 13(b)(5) and 30A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 [15 U.S.C. §§ 78m(b)(5) and 78dd-1] and Rule 13b2-1 [17 C.F.R. § 240.13b2-1], and aiding and abetting Pride’s violations of Sections 13(b)(2)(A), 13(b)(2)(B), and 30A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 [15 U.S.C. §§ 78m(b)(2)(B), and 78dd-1].

Pride International, Inc. trades on the NYSE under the symbol PDE.

View the SEC’s Litigation Release No. 21617 and Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Release No. 3169 (both dated August 5, 2010) in SEC v. Joe Summers, Civil Action No. 4:10-cv-02786 (S.D. Texas, August 5, 2010) here.

Download the SEC’s civil complaint against Summers here.

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