November 25, 2021

Netherlands-based energy company announces resolution to corruption investigation

On November 23, 2021, SBM Offshore NV (SBM), a Netherlands-based energy company that provides services and systems to the offshore oil and gas industry, announced that the Bundesanwaltschaft (the Swiss Public Prosecutor’s Office) had issued an investigation termination order and criminal penalty order against three of SBM’s Swiss subsidiaries, requiring them to pay, in total, a 7.0 million CHF ($7.6 million) criminal penalty. 

According to SBM’s press release, this action resolves the investigation by the Bundesanwaltschaft into the “suspicion” that these subsidiaries failed to take reasonable and necessary measures to prevent the bribery of foreign government officials between 2005 and 2012.  Erik Langendijk, SBM Offshore’s Chief Governance and Compliance Officer, stated in SBM’s press release that its resolution with the Bundesanwaltschaft concerned the same underlying conduct for which SBM had previously entered into resolutions with enforcement authorities in the Netherlands, the United States, and Brazil, and that this most-recent resolution with the Bundesanwaltschaft closed this issue “in Switzerland on a full and final basis.”

On November 29, 2017, SBM entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to resolve allegations that it had conspired to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by paying more than $180 million in commissions to third-party intermediaries, while knowing that a portion of those funds would be used bribe foreign government officials in Brazil, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan and Iraq, in exchange for SBM obtaining or retaining business with state-owned oil companies in these countries.   SBM acknowledged that it had obtained at least $2.8 billion from projects it entered into with these companies.  SBM’s US subsidiary, SBM Offshore USA Inc., pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the FCPA in connection with this same misconduct.  As part of the resolutions, SBM and SBM USA agreed to pay a criminal penalty of $238 million.  These resolutions followed soon after the early November 2017 guilty pleas of Anthony Mace (SBM’s former CEO and a former Board member of SBM USA) and Robert Zubiate (a former sales and marketing executive at SBM USA) in connection with their roles in this same misconduct.  In September 2018, Mace was sentenced to 36 months in prison and fined $150,000, and Zubiate was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $50,000.

SBM previously entered into an October 2019 resolution with the Brazilian Federal Prosecutors Officer, under which it agreed to pay BRL 200 million ($49 million) to Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned petroleum company, and a November 2014 resolution with the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office, under which it agreed to pay $240 million, in connection with the same misconduct that was the subject of its resolutions with the Bundesanwaltschaft and the DOJ.

SBM Offshore Press Release | DOJ Press Release (2017) | SBM Offshore Press Release (2014)