Cobalt International Energy, Inc. has denied alleged links between government officials and Nasaki Oil and Gas, one of Cobalt’s partners in Angola.
The Sunday Financial Times reported that the former head of Angola’s national oil company confirmed that three officials have held shares in Nasaki.
The officials were identified as Manuel Vicente, former head of state-owned Sonangol and now minister of state for economic co-ordination, General Manuel Helder Vieira Dias Junior, head of the president’s military bureau, and General Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento. They allegedly held their interests through Grupo Aquattro Internacional until 2010.
The officials, according to the report, said they didn’t influence award of Cobalt’s oil rights in Angola. Two of them reportedly signed letters confirming their ownership.
In an SEC filing last month, Cobalt said it was forced to enter into contracts with ‘two Angolan-based [exploration and production] companies . . . assigned as part of the contractor group by the Angolan government.’
We had not worked with either of these companies in the past, and, therefore, our familiarity with these companies was limited. In the fall of 2010, we were made aware of allegations of a connection between senior Angolan government officials and one of these companies, Nazaki Oil and Gáz, S.A. (“Nazaki”), which is a full paying member of the contractor group. Nazaki has repeatedly denied the allegations in writing.
After the SEC opened an investigation last year, Cobalt also talked with the DOJ.
‘We are fully cooperating with the SEC and DOJ investigations,’ Cobalt said. ‘We have conducted an extensive investigation into these allegations and believe that our activities in Angola have complied with all laws, including the FCPA.’
Cobalt International Energy, Inc. trades on the NYSE under the symbol CIE.