Op ed

Six (6) companies, $156M in bribery fines

Five energy companies and a logistics firm will pay more than $156 million in fines and penalties to resolve charges of bribing officials in Nigeria, Venezuela and elsewhere.

The charges are tied to Panalpina World Transport, a freight forwarding company that played the role of intermediary in paying the bribes.

According to the Department of Justice, Panalpina admitted that between 2002 and 2007 it paid thousands of bribes totaling at least $27 million to officials in at least seven countries, including Angola, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Russia and Turkmenistan.

The bribes were paid on behalf of companies including Shell, Transocean and Pride International to speed the movement of equipment through customs, get favorable treatment on business disputes and even extend the length of drilling contracts.

Panalpina has agreed to plead guilty to the charges and will pay a $70.56 million criminal penalty.

Others charged include:

  • Royal Dutch Shell, which will pay a $30 million fine for $2 million in bribes in Nigeria
  • Transocean, which will pay $13.44 million in fines for $90,000 in bribes in Nigeria
  • Tidewater Marine, which will pay $7.35 million for $1.7 million in bribes in Nigeria
  • Pride International which will pay $32.6 million for $800,000 in bribes in Venezuela, India and Mexico
  • Noble Corp. which will pay $2.59 million for $74,000 in bribes in Nigeria

Shell said it has fully cooperated with the DOJ and the Securities and Exchange Commission throughout the investigation:

“We have enhanced our compliance program and internal controls to better ensure employees and contractors strictly adhere to Shell’s General Business Principles and applicable laws.  Staff found to be in violation of policy were either disciplined or dismissed from Shell.”

A spokesman for Transocean said the company is glad to have reached the settlement, “…  and we’re moving forward with our robust legal, compliance and ethics programs.”

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