SBM Offshore Settles Bribery Case, Agrees to Pay USD 238 Mn

Netherlands-based SBM Offshore and its US subsidiary have agreed to resolve criminal charges involving bribes in five countries and pay a criminal penalty of USD 238 million.

According to the US Department of Justice, the penalty was set in connection with schemes involving the bribery of foreign officials in Brazil, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan and Iraq in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). SBM USA pleaded guilty on November 29 in connection with the resolution.

“This corrupt scheme involved some of the highest-level executives within the company, spanned five countries, and lasted for more than a decade,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

SBM entered into a deferred prosecution agreement in connection with a criminal information filed on November 29 in the Southern District of Texas charging the company with conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA. In addition, SBM USA pleaded guilty and was sentenced on a one-count criminal information charging the company with conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA.

Pursuant to its agreement with the Department, SBM agreed to pay a total criminal penalty of USD 238 million to the United States, including a USD 500,000 criminal fine and USD 13.2 million in criminal forfeiture that SBM agreed to pay on behalf of SBM USA.

According to the companies’ admissions and court documents, beginning by at least 1996 and continuing until at least 2012, SBM conspired to violate the FCPA by paying more than USD 180 million in commissions to intermediaries, knowing that a portion of those commissions would be used to bribe foreign officials in Brazil, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan and Iraq.

SBM made these payments in order to influence those officials, for the purpose of securing improper advantages and obtaining or retaining business with state-owned oil companies in the five named countries. SBM acknowledged that it gained at least USD 2.8 billion from projects it obtained from these state-owned oil companies.

The Justice Department resolution follows guilty pleas by two former SBM executives. On November 9, Anthony Mace, the former CEO of SBM and a former member of the board of directors of SBM USA, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. On November 6, Robert Zubiate, a former SBM USA executive, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. Mace and Zubiate are awaiting sentencing.

In 2014, SBM settled with the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office over related conduct and paid the Netherlands a total USD 200 million in disgorged profits and a USD 40 million fine. SBM has paid a combined worldwide total in criminal penalties in excess of USD 475 million.

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