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'Some evidence' of African govt officials bribes: SBM Offshore

'Some evidence' of African govt officials bribes: SBM Offshore
SBM Offshore says internal investigations into $200m in commissions paid to agents between 2007 and 2011 found “some evidence” payments may have been made to government officials in Angola and Equatorial Guinea.

Between 2007 and 2011 SBM Offshore paid $200m in commission to agents, the majority of which comprised $18.8m in Equatorial Guinea, $22.7m in Angola, and $139.1m in Brazil.

An internal investigation into the payments started in the first quarter of 2012, with  Paul Hastings LLP and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek acting as independent counsel, with Paul Hastings in turn appointing PwC Forensics.

In the case of Angola and Equatorial Guinea the company said there was some evidence that payments were made directly or indirectly to government officials.

“There is some evidence that persons affiliated with at least one of these agents were Angolan government officials or were associated with Angolan government officials. There is also some evidence that the agent used in Equatorial Guinea may have made payments to Angolan government officials and that other items of value were provided to Angolan government officials and/or their relatives,” the company said.

SBM Offshore said it did not know how much, if any, of the amount was paid to Angolan government officials.

In the case of Brazil there was no credible evidence found of corrupt payments.

“In respect of Brazil there were certain red flags but the investigation did not find any credible evidence that the company or the company's agent made improper payments to government officials (including state company employees). Rather, the agent provided substantial and legitimate services in a market which is by far the largest for the company,” SBM Offshore said.

Since investigations started the company said it had suspended payments to agents and reduced reliance on sales agents.

“Since its appointment in the course of 2012 the company's new management board has taken extensive remedial measures in respect of people, procedures, compliance programs and organisation in order to prevent any potential violations of applicable anti-corruption laws and regulations,” the company said.