Subscribe to our FinCrimes Update for news about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related prosecutions and enforcement actions.
On September 28, the DOJ announced that a former CEO and a former executive of oil services company SBM Offshore, N.V. (SBM) had been sentenced to prison and fined for their roles in a scheme to bribe foreign government officials in Brazil (at Petrobras), Angola (Sonangol), and Equatorial Guinea (GEPetrol) in exchange for oil-services contracts. In November 2017, the former CEO of SBM, Anthony “Tony” Mace, and a former sales and marketing executive at SBM USA, Robert Zubiate, each had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. Mace was sentenced to 36 months in prison and a fine of $150,000 for authorizing payments in furtherance of the bribery scheme, and Zubiate was sentenced to 30 months in prison and a fine of $50,000 for using a third-party sales agent to pay bribes to Petrobras officials.
SBM itself entered into a $238 million three-year deferred prosecution agreement and its subsidiary, SBM USA, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.
Prior Scorecard coverage of the company can be found here.
On November 29, Dutch oilfield company SBM Offshore entered into a three year deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ to settle allegations that SBM paid bribes to secure contracts in various countries around the world. Under the agreement, SBM agreed to pay a total of $238 million, including a $500,000 criminal fine and forfeiture of $13.2 million. The next day, the UK Serious Fraud Office announced that two former SBM executives had been charged with conspiracy to make corrupt payments in connection with government contracts in Iraq between 2005 and 2011.
Earlier this month, two different former SBM executives pleaded guilty in US federal court to paying bribes to government officials in Brazil, Angola, and Equatorial Guinea. Click here for FCPA Scorecard’s prior coverage of these guilty pleas. SBM has been involved in a sprawling bribery investigation involving enforcement officials in the United States, the UK, Brazil and the Netherlands. The DOJ closed its investigation in 2014 before reopening it in February of 2016. Click here to view previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of the SBM investigation.
The company’s deferred prosecution agreement states that SBM did not receive voluntary disclosure credit even though it voluntarily disclosed the conduct to the DOJ, because the disclosure was untimely as it took place “approximately one year” after the company learned of the information. It also states that SBM received full cooperation credit because it conducted a “thorough internal investigation, [made] regular factual presentations” to the DOJ, “voluntarily [made] foreign-based employees available for interviews in the United States, [produced] documents to the United States from foreign countries” and expedited parts of the internal investigation. The deferred prosecution agreement goes on to detail the remedial measures that SBM has taken to improve its compliance function, which included hiring a third party to design and implement a new compliance program, reduce the number of third party agents engaged by the company, and terminate relationships with questionable third parties. It goes on to explain that all of these factors weighed in the DOJ’s decision not to seek a guilty plea by the company. This information provides insight into the DOJ’s expectations for receiving disclosure and compliance credit.
The Department of Justice announced last week that two former executives of SBM Offshore (“SBM”), a Dutch oil and gas services company, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Anthony Mace, SBM’s CEO from 2008 to 2011, and Robert Zubiate, a former U.S.-based sales and marketing executive, admitted their involvement in a scheme to bribe government officials in Brazil, Angola, and Equatorial Guinea. The government’s allegations relate to payments made and kickbacks provided to foreign officials in exchange for their assistance in securing contracts in those countries.
Zubiate is scheduled for sentencing on January 31, 2018, and Mace is scheduled for sentencing on February 2, 2018.
Click here for FCPA Scorecard’s prior coverage of this matter.
On February 10, 2016, Dutch oilfield company SBM Offshore announced that the U.S. DOJ has now re-opened its investigation into allegations that SBM paid bribes to secure contracts in various countries around the world. SBM stated that the DOJ has made "information requests" in connection with the bribery investigation and that SBM is "seeking further clarification about the scope of the inquiry." SBM previously had reached a $240 million settlement with Dutch authorities in November 2014 to resolve allegations involving bribes to government officials in Angola, Brazil, and Equatorial Guinea between 2007 and 2011. At the time, SBM announced that the DOJ had simultaneously closed its investigation into the same matter. Its most recent announcement, however, shows that the U.S. government has rekindled its inquiry. SBM also announced that it has reserved $245 million to cover a possible settlement with Brazilian authorities. This announcement comes on the heels of a January 2016 settlement between the Ministerio Publico Federal (MPF), Brazil's Public Prosecutor's Office, and SBM's CEO and a member of SBM's supervisory board apparently tied to the ongoing Petrobras scandal in Brazil. Click here to view previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of the SBM investigation.
On January 22, 2016, the Ministerio Publico Federal (MPF), Brazil's Public Prosecutor's Office, reportedly entered into a settlement with Dutch drilling company SBM Offshore's CEO and a member of its supervisory board, resolving misdemeanor allegations apparently tied to the ongoing Petrobras probe in Brazil. If the settlement is approved by the Brazilian judge handling the case, both individuals will be fined approximately $60,000 each, with no admission of guilt. SBM Offshore stated in response that while it "believes that accepting the settlement offers a pragmatic opportunity to expeditiously resolve this matter that avoids long and costly legal proceedings," it remains of the opinion that the accusations are without merit and that it stands behind both individuals. While SBM Offshore declined to comment on the specific accusations of misconduct in this case, the settlement comes a little over a year after SBM Offshore resolved an enforcement action in the Netherlands involving alleged bribes in Angola, Brazil, and Equatorial Guinea between 2007 and 2011. Click here to view previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of SBM Offshore and Brazil's Petrobras investigation.
On December 21, Brazilian officials charged twelve individuals with corruption-related offenses in connection with a probe into the relationship between Petrobras and Dutch oilfield company SBM Offshore N.V. Those charged include several former SBM Offshore executives, former SBM Offshore sales agents, and several former Petrobras executives. News reports state that the charges center on $46 million in allegedly corrupt payments made between 1998 and 2012. On December 17, SBM Offshore issued a statement that referred to ongoing discussions with Brazils Comptroller Generals Office and Attorney Generals Office to reach a settlement agreement and to secure disclosure of information relevant to the ongoing investigation into Petrobras. Brazils actions follow SBM Offshores prior settlement with Dutch authorities over allegations that it bribed officials in Brazil, Angola, and Equitorial Guinea; SBM Offshore agreed to pay the Dutch Public Prosecutors Office $240 million as part of the settlement. The company also had announced the conclusion of the DOJs investigation into the matters resolved with the Dutch. Previous FCPA Scorecard coverage of SBM Offshore settlement and the Petrobas investigation can be found here and here.