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SBM Offshore: Our agents may have bribed officials in Africa

Dutch oil and gas services company SBM Offshore NV announced that a two-year internal investigation produced evidence showing that its agents in Angola and Equatorial Guinea may have bribed government officials.

The investigation by independent external counsel and forensic accountants focused on the use of agents from 2007 through 2011.

SBM Offshore said Wednesday there was evidence of payments directly or indirectly to government officials in Angola and Equatorial Guinea by agents who were paid about $200 million in commissions.

The investigation didn’t find “credible evidence” that improper payments were made to any government officials in Brazil, where SBM Offshore does most of its business.

Earlier this week, Brazil’s state-run oil company, Petrobras, said its internal investigation found no evidence of bribes to its employees from SBM.

SBM self reported to the Dutch Openbaar Ministerie and the U.S. DOJ in April 2012 that it was carrying out an internal investigation relating to possible illegal payments.

The company said last week its investigation showed that some payments to sales agents were actually intended for government officials. SBM said it could be subject to a criminal investigation for alleged bribes to officials in Africa.

SBM said it has suspended “payments to agents, reduced reliance on sales agents, and [set up] processes to improve possible vulnerabilities associated with the use of sales agents.”


Julie DiMauro is the executive editor of FCPA Blog and can be reached here.

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