Sevan’s agent implicated in Petrobras bribery scandal

An agent who brokered offshore contracts between Sevan Marine and Petrobras in Brazil has come under scrutiny after receiving up to $40m of Sevan’s money into its offshore bank account, Norwegian reports say.

The agent’s company is now part of the investigation into whether ex-Sevan Marine employees made bribes to Petrobras to secure contracts between 2005 and 2008. On Friday, independent corporate investigator Advokatfirmaet Selmer said it was “more likely than not” that bribes were exchanged.

The Brazilian agent, named Raul Schmidt Felippe Junior, brokered Petrobras’ charters of floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel and two cylindrical drilling rigs owned by Sevan between 2005 and 2008, according to Dagens Næringsliv.

Felippe was employed by Global Offshore Services Inc, which is registered in the British Virgin Islands. As an agent, he would have been paid 2.5% to 3% in commission for the three charter deals, the newspaper said.

Between 2005 and 2012, Sevan Drilling and (as of 2012) Seadrill are thought to have paid the tax haven-based company total commission of between NOK 240m and 325m ($30m-40m), including a $6m bonus for Felippe, the report said, citing Brazilian press and court documents submitted in Brazil.

The alleged bribes were made to obtain the Brazilian energy company’s charters of Sevan’s floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel Sevan Piranema, and its cylindrical drilling rigs Sevan Driller and Sevan Brasil, Advokatfirmaet Selmer said on Friday.

Selmer found indications of suspicious acts and transactions, “constituting both a neglect of Sevan’s affairs and/or a conflict with Sevan’s interests and such acts may potentially represent economic crime”. The possible wrongdoings are connected to individuals who have since left Sevan.

The findings have been passed on to Økokrim, Norway’s authority for investigation and prosecution of economic and environmental crime, which will continue to look into the possible crimes.

On Monday, Seadrill issued a statement distancing itself from the Petrobras scandal.

Selmer is continuing to investigate whether Petrobras executives provided privileged information to investors regarding contracts signed between Petrobras and Sevan, as has been suggested in the Brazilian media.

Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.
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