Dutch Energy Firm Pays US$240m to Settle Bribery Charges

Dutch oil and gas company SBM Offshore has agreed a US$240m (€192m) out-of-court settlement for bribes paid to two of Africa’s largest oil producers and Brazil, said prosecutors in the Netherlands.

“SBM offshore has accepted an offer from the Dutch prosecutor’s office to enter in an out-of-court settlement,” read a statement issued in The Hague. The payment comprises a US$40m fine and a US$200m profit payback.

Shares in SMB Offshore, which produces ships and rigs for the offshore oil and gas sector, rose sharply on the Amsterdam stock exchange after the US Department of Justice dropped its own probe in response to the settlement.

The payout follows a two-year internal investigation by the company based in Schiedam outside Rotterdam, after it discovered its sales agents in Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Brazil were bribing government officials.

SBM Offshore itself informed the prosecutor’s office, Openbaar Ministeries (OM), of the internal investigation and pledged to fully cooperate.

In Angola, set to overtake Nigeria as Africa’s largest oil producer, “government officials, who are associated with at least one of the sales agents, received funds,” prosecutors said.

“In addition, there are payments for travel and study costs to one or more Angolan government officials or their relatives.”

In Equatorial Guinea in early 2012 SBM Offshore discovered “that one of its former sales agents might have given certain items of value to government officials,” said the OM’s statement. Government officials were also bribed in Brazil.

Prosecutors said that as SBM Offshore initiated the investigation and took measures to prevent bribery from reoccurring, it “sees the out-of-court settlement as an appropriate outcome of this matter.”

The investigation and settlement “showed that the Netherlands takes action against foreign corruption.”

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