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Harry Cassin
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UK oil firm declares ‘corruption force majeure’ in Guinea because of FCPA probe

Image courtesy of Tullow OilTullow Oil declared force majeure on its offshore exploration block in Guinea following the disclosure that its partner, U.S.-based Hyperdynamics Corporation, is under investigation by the DOJ and SEC for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

As reported Thursday by Oil Patch Asia, the U.S. investigation was launched after the West African country of Guinea sought help from the G8 countries to track potentially corrupt deals.

Houston-based Hyperdynamics Corporation said in an SEC filing in November that it received a subpoena from the DOJ requesting documents relating to its business in Guinea.

The investigation is focused on whether its “activities in obtaining and retaining the Concession rights and [its] relationships with charitable organizations potentially violate the FCPA and anti-money laundering statutes,” Hyperdynamics said.

Charitable contributions can violate the FCPA if they benefit foreign officials personally and are intended to obtain or retain business or gain an unfair advantage.

“Tullow has decided that it cannot proceed with activities on the [exploration] license until these issues are resolved,” according to a statement quoted by Oil Patch Asia. “Tullow hopes for a speedy resolution to these issues and looks forward to continuing operations with its partners in Guinea.”

Hyperdynamics, Tullow, and Dana Petroleum have been exploring a 7,239 square-mile area off the African coast.

Tullow Oil had been planning to start drilling off Guinea together with its partners in the second quarter of 2014, Oil Patch Asia said.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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