SBM Offshore’s former CEO Tony Mace has pleaded guilty to charges related to paying bribes to foreign officials to get contracts in return.
Mace, a UK-citizen, who left the CEO position of SBM Offshore back in December 2011, on Thursday confirmed he had conspired to violate the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, through involvement in a scheme to bribe foreign government officials in Brazil, Angola and Equatorial Guinea.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, Mace, who served as the CEO of the world’s largest FPSO provider between 2008 and 2011, admitted that prior to becoming CEO, other employees of SBM Offshore entered into an agreement to pay bribes to foreign officials.
These included officials at Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, Petrobras, Angola’s state-owned oil company, Sonangol and Equatorial Guinea’s state-owned oil company, Petroléos de Guinea Ecuatorial (GEPetrol).
Mace also admitted he joined the conspiracy by authorizing payments in furtherance of the bribery scheme and deliberately avoided learning that those payments were bribes.
U.S. sales exec admits too
Earlier this week, on November 6, another former executive of SBM Offshore, Robert Zubiate pleaded guilty to bribery charges.
Zubiate, 66, of California, was a former Texas and California-based sales and marketing executive at SBM Offshore’s U.S. subsidiary.
He admitted that between 1996 and 2012, he and his co-conspirators used a third-party sales agent to pay bribes to foreign officials at Petrobras in exchange for those officials’ assisting SBM Offshore with winning bids.
Zubiate also admitted engaging in a kickback scheme with the bribe-paying sales agent for the Oil Services Company and its U.S. subsidiary, the department of justice said on Thursday.
U.S. District Judge David Hittner of the Southern District of Texas accepted Mace’s guilty plea on Nov. 9 and Zubiate’s guilty plea on Nov. 6. Sentencing for Mace is scheduled for Feb. 2, 2018, and Zubiate for Jan. 31, 2018.
SBM Offshore sets aside cash to pay up
SBM Offshore on Monday said it set aside $238 million to settle an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for alleged improper payments made between 2007 and 2012.
The company made a provision of $238 million based on advanced discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice (“DoJ”) in relation to the DoJ’s reopened investigation into “legacy issues and Unaoil.”
To remind, the Department of Justice had in 2014 closed an investigation into SBM Offshore’s illicit payments made to government officials in Angola, Brazil, and Equatorial Guinea, and decided not to prosecute, based upon a lack of US jurisdiction, but reserved the right to reopen the investigation if new facts came to light.
However, it then in 2016 reopened the investigation following a case in Brazil, when the Brazilian Public Prosecutor’s Office made bribery allegations regarding several people in Brazil and abroad, including some (then) current and former employees of SBM Offshore, of whom one is a U.S. citizen.
The company on Monday said it was in advanced discussions with the DoJ concerning a potential resolution of the DoJ’s investigations.
Dutch FPSO supplier in November 2014 reached a $240 million out-of-court settlement with the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office
“Based on these investigations and the applicable U.S. statutory rules, the DoJ has now concluded that the evidence not only supports jurisdiction in the United States but also requires a further penalty in the United States. Confronted with the DoJ’s conclusions and in anticipation of a final resolution, the Company is making a provision of US$238 million,” SBM Offshore said on Monday.
The company said that the proposed terms under discussion reflected “confidence in the quality of the company’s compliance program and efforts by current management.”
“Final resolution with the DoJ remains subject to, amongst other matters, agreement on the terms and conditions of the resolution, including subsequent approval thereof by the Company’s Supervisory Board,” SBM Offshore said.
As previously reported, the Dutch FPSO supplier in November 2014 reached a $240 million out-of-court settlement with the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office (Openbaar Ministerie) over the inquiry into alleged improper payments.
Offshore Energy Today on Friday reached out to SBM Offshore seeking comment on the former CEO’s guilty plea.
The company’s spokesperson said the company did not have any further comments at the time other than what it had already said on Monday.