Six oil and gas service companies and a prominent freight-forwarding company agreed to pay about $236 million in criminal and civil penalties in one of the largest corporate bribery cases ever to focus on a single industry, federal authorities said Thursday.
Most of the bribes were paid to circumvent local rules and regulations, allowing the oil service companies to import equipment and vessels into foreign countries, which included Angola, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Russia and Turkmenistan.
The settlements were announced by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The freight-forwarding and logistics company, Panalpina, which is based in Basel, Switzerland, admittedthat it paid thousands of bribes totaling at least $27 million to foreign officials in seven countries on behalf of many of its oil and gas industry customers, the federal authorities said.
The oil and gas companies, which agreed to plead guilty to violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or to pay settlements under deferred prosecution agreements, are Transocean Inc. and Tidewater Marine International Inc., both of which are based in the Cayman Islands; Pride International Inc. of Houston; the Noble Corporation of Switzerland; and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production, part of Royal Dutch Shell. A sixth company, the Global Santa Fe Corporation, will pay a civil settlement only.