SBM Offshore charged in Africa bribery case

Three Swiss subsidiaries of Dutch floater specialist SBM Offshore have been ordered to pay over $7m for failing to prevent the bribery of foreign public officials in Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria.

The office of the attorney general of Switzerland (OAG) has sentenced the Swiss companies SBM Holding, Single Buoy Moorings and SBM Production Contractors and ordered them to pay an amount of over CHF7m ($7.6m), including a fine of CHF4.2m.

The OAG’s investigation revealed that between 2006 and the start of 2012, bribes totalling more than $22m and close to €1m were paid to public officials in Angola, Equatorial Guinea and, to a lesser extent, Nigeria. 

Reportedly, the money came from bank accounts held by SBM Holding Inc and were channelled with the aid of intermediaries acting through shell companies, under the cover of sham contracts concluded with the three Swiss companies now convicted. Swiss justice authorities said that “these criminal practices were part of a system specifically set up to pay substantial bribes to foreign public officials with the aim of securing contracts for the SBM Offshore group.”

The summary penalty order is the latest stage in proceedings conducted by the OAG that led to a judgment issued in July last year in which Didier Keller, a former executive of SBM Offshore and of SBM Holding, was convicted under a simplified procedure of bribing foreign public officials in Angola. It is also connected to settlements reached, primarily by SBM Offshore in the Netherlands, the US and Brazil over the past seven years.

Adis Ajdin

Adis is an experienced news reporter with a background in finance, media and education. He has written across the spectrum of offshore energy and ocean industries for many years and is a member of International Federation of Journalists. Previously he had written for Navingo media group titles including Offshore Energy, Subsea World News and Marine Energy.
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