WASHINGTON (Reuters) - SBM Offshore NV (SBMO.AS), a Netherlands-based maker of offshore oil drilling equipment, and its U.S. subsidiary, SBM Offshore USA Inc, agreed to settle criminal charges of bribing officials in five countries and pay a $238 million penalty, the U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday.
The companies agreed to settle charges related to schemes lasting more than a decade involving bribery of foreign officials in Brazil, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan and Iraq, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the Justice Department said in a statement.
SBM Offshore USA pleaded guilty on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, the statement said.
The settlement follows guilty pleas earlier this month by two former executives at parent company SBM Offshore NV to U.S. charges they participated in a scheme to bribe officials at three foreign state-run oil companies.
Anthony Mace, SBM’s chief executive officer from 2008 to 2011, pleaded guilty on Nov. 9 in federal court in Houston in one of the first U.S. Justice Department cases filed against individuals related to bribery allegations involving Petroleo Brasileiro SA, also known as Petrobras (PETR4.SA).
The plea by Mace, 65, to one count of conspiring to violate the FCPA came after a former sales and marketing executive at the company’s U.S. subsidiary, Robert Zubiate, pleaded guilty on Nov. 6 to the same charge.
Mace’s plea came after SBM said it had set aside $238 million amid advanced discussions to resolve a U.S. probe into improper payments to foreign government officials.
Prosecutors said after becoming chief executive, Mace joined a scheme that began in 1996 to pay bribes to officials at Petrobras, Angola’s state-owned oil company Sonangol and Equatorial Guinea’s GEPetrol.
Mace, a British citizen, is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 2. Zubiate, who was based in Texas and California while with SBM, is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 31.
Petrobras has been at the center of Brazil’s largest ever corruption scandal amid investigations into a political kickback scheme involving contractors.
SBM in 2014 agreed to pay $240 million to settle a Dutch inquiry into improper payments to officials in Angola, Brazil and Equatorial Guinea.
SBM last year had also set aside $280 million to settle related issues in Brazil. But it announced on Nov. 6 the Brazilian case remained unresolved.
Reporting by Eric Walsh; Additional reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Chris Reese