After Noble Corporation agreed to pay $2.5million to resolve a Nigerian corruption investigation and more than $8million to resolve the Foreign Bribery investigation by the SEC and the U.S. Department of Justice in connection with its relationship to Panalpina an investigation for current long term investors in Noble Corporation (NYSE:NE) concerning whether certain officer and directors can be held liable over those settlements was announced.
The investigation by a law firm for current long term investors in Noble Corporation (NYSE:NE) concerns whether certain officer and directors at Noble Corp can be held liable in connection with the recent agreements to settle Foreign Bribery charges for possible violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which prohibits companies from making improper payments to foreign officials for the purpose of obtaining or keeping business.
Noble Corporation said in a regulatory filing that it had entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the Nigerian Financial Crimes Commission and the Nigerian attorney generals office over claims that its affiliate in Nigeria made improper payments to customs agents. The most recent agreement with Nigerian Authorities follows agreements with U.S. authorities. In November 2010 Noble Corp. entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the Justice Department and agreed to pay $2.6 million fine. Noble Corp. also agreed to pay $5.6 million in disgorged profits and interest to settle the SEC investigation, without admitting or denying wrongdoing.
In 2007, Noble Corporation had contacted the SEC and the U.S. Department of Justice to advise them of, an internal investigation of the legality under the United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and local laws of certain reimbursement payments made by our Nigerian affiliate to customs agents in Nigeria. Noble Corporation said in an SEC filing that the SEC and the Department of Justice have indicated that they believe that violations of the FCPA occurred and will seek civil and/or criminal sanctions against Noble Corp., including monetary penalties, and may include additional sanctions against Noble Corporation and/or certain of its employees, as well as additional changes to its business practices and compliance programs. Noble Corporation said it could also face fines or sanctions in relevant foreign jurisdictions.
Then in October 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported that Noble Corporation as a customer of Panalpina Group is also among the companies investigated by the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with potential foreign bribery and violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by Panalpina Group. According to the Justice Department the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was enacted for the purpose of making it unlawful for certain classes of persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. Specifically, the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA prohibit the willful use of the mails or any means of instrumentality of interstate commerce corruptly in furtherance of any offer, payment, promise to payto a foreign official to influence the foreign official in his or her official capacity to secure any improper advantage in order to assist in obtaining or retaining business for or with, or directing business to, any person.
On November 4, 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported the logistics company admitted paying $27 million in bribes to foreign officials in several countries to expedite services for a raft of companies, including Pride International Inc., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Tidewater Inc., Transocean Inc., GlobalSantaFe Corp. and Noble Corp. The Panalpina investigation came to light in 2007, after subsidiaries of Vetco International Ltd. pleaded guilty to paying $2.1 million in bribes to Nigerian customs officials through the Swiss logistics company. Vetco agreed to pay $26 million in criminal fines, the largest-ever FCPA penalty at the time.
Panalpina World Transport Holding Ltd., Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Transocean Ltd., Tidewater Marine International Inc. a wholly owned subsidiary of Tidewater Inc, Pride International Inc., GlobalSantaFe Corp., which merged with Transocean in 2007, and Noble Corp agreed to pay $236.5 million to resolve a U.S. probe of overseas bribery. The U.S. will collect $156.5 million in criminal penalties and $80 million in civil sanctions for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.