Weatherford International Ltd. agreed Tuesday to pay over $252 million to resolve U.S. allegations it bribed officials in Africa and Europe, paid kickbacks in Iraq, and violated sanctions against countries including Iran, Syria and Cuba.
The Geneva-based oil services company paid $152.6 million to the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission for violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which outlaws bribing foreign officials to win or keep work. The fine was also for paying kickbacks to the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussain in violation of the UN oil for food program.
Weatherford also paid $100 million for export controls violations under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Trading with the Enemy Act.
The FCPA portion of the settlement ranks as the ninth biggest FCPA case of all time.
Weatherford Services set up a joint venture in Africa with two local entities controlled by foreign officials and their relatives from 2004 through at least 2008, the DOJ said.
Employees in Africa bribed a foreign official so he would approve the renewal of an oil services contract, the DOJ said. The bribes were funneled the bribes ‘through a freight forwarding agent it retained via a consultancy agreement in July 2006.’
In the Middle East from 2005 through 2011, employees of another subsidiary, Weatherford Oil Tools Middle East Limited (WOTME), gave improper ‘volume discounts’ to a Weatherford distributor to create a $15 million slush fund for bribe payments.
WOTME also paid nearly $1.5 million in kickbacks to the government of Iraq on nine contracts with Iraq’s Ministry of Oil, as well as other ministries, to provide oil drilling and refining equipment. It hid the kickbacks from the U.N. by inflating contract prices by 10 percent.
In Africa and the Middle East, Weatherford made about $59 million in profits from business obtained through bribes and kickbacks.
It also made at least $30 million in profits from its improper sales to sanctioned countries including Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria.
The SEC said managers at Weatherford’s subsidiary in Italy ‘flouted the lack of internal controls and misappropriated more than $200,000 in company funds, some of which was improperly paid to Albanian tax auditors.’
The SEC fined Weatherford $1.875 million ‘for lack of cooperation early in the investigation.’
But the DOJ said the settlement of the case ‘acknowledges Weatherford International’s cooperation in this matter, including conducting a thorough internal investigation into bribery and related misconduct, and its extensive remediation and compliance improvement efforts.’
Weatherford said earlier this year that it spent about $115 million on the investigations for lawyers and other professional fees.
It operates in about 100 countries with more than 65,000 employees. Annual revenues topped $15 billion.
The company stopped doing business with Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria in 2008, it said earlier.
Weatherford International Ltd. trades on the NYSE under the symbol WFT.