The DOJ agreed last week to end Pride International’s deferred prosecution agreement a year early to reward the company for its enhanced compliance efforts.
As reported by Matt Kelly of Compliance Week, it was the first time in an FCPA case that the DOJ terminated a DPA ahead of schedule ‘for good behavior.’
Two years ago, Houston-based Pride International Inc. and a French subsidiary were charged with FCPA-related offenses for paying bribes to government officials in Venezuela, India and Mexico. The bribes were paid to extend drilling contracts for three oil rigs operating offshore in Venezuela, to secure a favorable decision in a customs dispute for a rig imported into India, and to avoid customs duties and penalties for a rig operating in Mexico.
Pride International entered into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement but did not pay any criminal penalties. A French subsidiary, Pride Forasol, paid a $32.6 million criminal penalty.
The settlement was part of the DOJ’s seven-party enforcement action growing out of its investigation of Swiss logistics firm Panalpina.
In an SEC settlement, Pride International also agreed to pay $23.5 million in disgorgement of profits and prejudgment interest.
Last year, Pride was acquired by Ensco Corp. for $7.3 billion. Ensco agreed to be bound by the terms of Pride’s deferred prosecution agreement.
The DOJ said in its motion to dismiss the criminal information and terminate the DPA:
Pride adhered to its compliance undertakings required by the DPA by, among other things, (a) instituting and maintaining a compliance and ethics program that is designed to prevent and detect violations of the FCPA, among other laws; (b) maintaining internal controls, policies and procedures to ensure that books, records and accounts are fairly and accurately made and kept; and (c) reducing its reliance on third-party business partners and subjecting third-party business partners to appropriate due diligence requirements pertaining to the retention and oversight of agents and business partners.
Federal district judge Lynn Hughe signed the dismissal order in Houston on November 5.
Pride was represented by Homer Moyer of Miller & Chevalier.
Compliance Week’s Kelly said the DOJ’s dismissal is more tangible proof ‘that robust compliance programs are worth the cost and effort.’