Another Company in Oil and Gas Sector Pleads Guilty to FCPA Violations
Yet another company involved in the oil and gas business has been found guilty of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
On November 21, 2008, the Aibel Group Ltd., a United Kingdom-based provider of products and services to the upstream oil and gas industry that is owned by Norwegian private equity funds, pleaded guilty in federal court in Houston, Texas to conspiracy to violate the FCPA and violating the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA.
According to the Justice Department, the corrupt payments were coordinated largely through an affiliated company’s offices in Houston and paid through a major international freight forwarding and customs clearance company to the Nigerian officials.
Aibel Group also admitted that it was not in compliance with a deferred prosecution agreement it had entered into with the Justice Department in February 2007 regarding the same underlying conduct. As part of the plea agreement, Aibel Group agreed to pay a $4.2 million criminal fine and to serve a two year term of organizational probation that requires, among other things, that it submit periodic reports regarding its progress in implementing antibribery compliance measures.
Aibel Group admitted to conspiring with others to make at least 378 corrupt payments totaling approximately $2.1 million to Nigerian customs service officials in an effort to induce those officials to give the defendants preferential treatment during the customs clearance process in connection with Nigeria's first deepwater oil drilling operation.
The Justice Department said that the resolution of the criminal investigation against Aibel Group now and its affiliates in 2007 resulted, in large part, from the actions of the companies in voluntarily disclosing the matter to the Justice Department and the companies’ agreement to take significant remedial steps.