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Parker Drilling in $15.85 million settlement

Houston-based Parker Drilling Company resolved Foreign Corrupt Practices Act charges Tuesday for bribes paid to Nigerian officials through an agent to circumvent customs and tax laws.

Parker agreed to pay the DOJ a criminal penalty of $11.76 million.

It also resolved civil charges with the SEC by agreeing to pay $4.09 million — with disgorgement of $3.05 million plus pre-judgment interest of $1.04 million.

Parker pleaded guilty to a one-count information filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia charging it with violating the FCPA’s anti-bribery provisions.

The case arose from the investigation of global logistics firm Panalpina. 

In 2010, Panalpina and five of its oil-and-gas services customers resolved FCPA offenses with the DOJ and SEC for a combined $236.5 million.

In  2001 and 2002, Panalpina’s Nigeria affiliate fraudulently claimed on Parker’s behalf that its rigs had been exported and then re-imported into Nigeria. A Nigeria government commission started proceedings against Parker for violating customs laws and avoiding customs payments. Parker was assessed a $3.8 million fine.

Parker then ‘contracted indirectly with an intermediary agent to resolve its customs issues,’ the DOJ said.  The company paid $1.25 million to the agent, who reported spending a portion of the money on various things including entertaining government officials. The agent’s invoices were approved by two Parker employees.

The agent succeeded in reducing Parker’s Nigeria fines from $3.8 million to $750,000.

The DOJ gave Parker a three-year deferred prosecution agreement.

It said the company conducted a thorough internal investigation. It also ended relationships ‘with officers, employees, or agents primarily responsible for the corrupt payments.’ And it enhanced its compliance program and cooperated with the DOJ.

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The DOJ’s April 16, 2013 release is here.

The SEC’s Litigation Release Nos. 22672 and AAER-3454 (dated April 16, 2013) in Securities and Exchange Commission v. Parker Drilling Company, Civil Action No. 1:13CV461 (E.D. Va., April 16, 2013) are here and the civil complaint in the case is here.

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