Welcome to This Week In Compliance: GAN’s weekly news roundup, where we curate the latest stories on compliance and anti-corruption to keep you informed. This week, an Italian court acquits Eni and Shell’s bribery case in Nigeria. Read the full story and more news below:
Italian Court Acquits Eni & Shell in Nigeria Bribery Case:
Italian oil giants Eni and Royal Dutch Shell PLC were both acquitted of bribery charges by an Italian court. Shell and Eni were accused of bribing Nigerian state-officials in exchange for purchasing a Nigerian oil field. The case, which had lasted more than three years, accused the companies of siphoning part of the USD 1.1BN contract to politicians and intermediaries. Italian prosecutors were calling for both companies and their former managers to be fined. Nigeria stated it was disappointed with the outcome and said it would continue to seek accountability in the case.
John Wood Group Settles Bribery Probe for USD 197M:
John Wood Group PLC is about to reach a multi-country settlement on bribery allegations with U.K., U.S., and Brazilian authorities. The energy services company stated it earmarked USD 197M for the resolution. John Wood is accused of using intermediaries to pay bribes in Kazakhstan for contracts in the oil sector between 2008 to 2011, benefiting a legacy company owned jointly with Unaoil. The company came under investigation in 2016 when media reports disclosed bribery schemes all around the world. On March 17th, the energy services company reached its first settlement of the case for USD 9.5M with Scottish prosecutors. The company stated that it has since taken significant steps to improve its culture, ethics, and compliance program.
Toyota Discloses Potential Bribery in Thailand:
Japanese carmaker Toyota Motor Corp. disclosed potential bribery violations in its Thai operations in a regulatory filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). According to the filing, the company is cooperating with both the SEC and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in solving the case. While Toyota did not disclose any further details on the investigation, it stated that the company was unable to predict the scope and duration of the misconduct at the time of the potential violations.
U.K. SFO Closes Bribery Probe on KBR Inc:
The U.K. Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced that it’s closing its probe into procurement and engineering company KBR Inc. After four years of investigation, the SFO concluded that it had not gathered enough evidence for prosecution. The case closure comes a month after the U.K.’s Supreme Court ruled that the agency did not have the power to gather documents from foreign businesses for investigations, denying the agency of any extraterritorial reach.
Braskem Opens Pemex Corruption Probe:
Brazilian petrochemical giant Braskem has announced a new investigation into potential bribery in its Mexican operations. According to the statement, Braskem is investigating whether the claims made by the former CEO of Mexico’s state-owned oil company (Pemex) Emilio Lozoya about corruption at Braskem are valid. In 2016, Braskem and its parent company Odebrecht settled corruption charges in several countries for USD 3.6 BN. Lozoya disclosed that he accepted bribes from Odebrecht under an ethylene project in which Braskem was also involved in. A Braskem spokesperson declined to comment further on the filing.
Sarkozy Facing Second Trial on Fraud Charges:
Former French president Nicholas Sarkozy, who was recently sentenced to jail for corruption, is facing another trial on illicit campaign financing. Sarkozy is accused of overspending in his 2012 re-election campaign by EUR 20M (USD 24M). According to the allegations, the former president was warned by his accountant about the excessive campaign expenditures. The campaign management team disguised the payments through fake invoices, which the former president stated he was not aware of. The campaign executives admitted to the fraud scheme. If convicted in this case, Sarkozy could face a year in prison.
OECD Urges Slovenia to Bolster Foreign Bribery Enforcement:
A new report released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Working Group (OECD) on Bribery in International Business Transactions on March 18th urges Slovenia to step up its foreign bribery enforcement. The report monitors the progress of the OECD Member States in implementing the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. The anti-corruption watchdog highlights that even though Slovenia had made progress since its last assessment six years ago, the level of enforcement of foreign bribery laws is sluggish, with no convictions being made for over 20 years. Slovenia is expected to respond to the OECD’s recommendations within two years, highlighting the response steps the country is going to take.