On November 4, 2020, Tenaris, S.A., Luxembourg-based company that manufactures and distributes steel pipes for the oil and gas sector, disclosed that it had entered into discussions with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the US Department of Justice “towards a potential resolution” of previously disclosed investigations by the SEC and DOJ into potentially improper payments made by Tenaris affiliates to Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras).
Tenaris disclosed in November 2016 that it had begun an internal investigation into these potentially improper payments after learning of related investigations by Italian, Brazilian, and Swiss authorities, and that it had notified the DOJ and SEC of its internal investigation. The internal investigation is focused on certain payments made prior to 2014, from the accounts of entities associated with affiliates of the company to accounts allegedly associated with individuals linked to Petrobras, to determine if any such payments were made with the intention to benefit the company’s Brazilian subsidiary, Confab. This investigation appears to be ongoing, and in its November 4, 2020 disclosure, Tenaris stated that it was continuing to cooperate with, and respond to requests from, enforcement authorities, and noted that it had entered into discussions with the SEC and DOJ regarding a potential resolution.
Several Tenaris executives are also under investigation in connection with their role in the alleged improper payments. In Italy, the Milan public prosecutors’ office has completed an investigation into the alleged payments, including into the company’s Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, controlling shareholder, and two other Board members, and, in February 2020, decided to move the case to trial. In Brazil, the public prosecutors’ officer has requested the indictment of several individuals, including three current or former executives of Confab. Neither Tenaris nor Confab is a party to these proceedings, which are ongoing.
In 2011, Tenaris resolved an FCPA investigation in which it agreed to pay $9 million to the DOJ and SEC in connection with improper payments it had made in order to obtain contracts with state-owned entities in Uzbekistan.