By Anthony Deutsch
AMSTERDAM, Feb 10 (Reuters) – SBM Offshore, the world’s top oil production ship leasing company, said on Wednesday that U.S. authorities had re-opened an inquiry into bribery allegations involving the Dutch company.
The company reached a record $240 million settlement in November 2014 with Dutch and U.S. authorities relating to corruption charges in Angola, Brazil and Equatorial Guinea, over an estimated $200 million in bribes paid between 2007 and 2011.
SBM Offshore said in a statement it was setting aside a further $245 million for a possible settlement with Brazilian authorities, although the timing of that settlement was unclear.
The company, which generates roughly 60 percent of revenue in Brazil, has been in talks with the Brazilian comptroller general’s office about a leniency deal related to the corruption scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras.
In December, Brazilian prosecutors charged 12 people with involvement in the bribery scheme, including a U.S. citizen.
The U.S. Department of Justice has “made information requests in connection with that inquiry. The company is seeking further clarification about the scope of the inquiry,” SBM Offshore said.
SBM Offshore Chief Executive Bruno Chabas told journalists the U.S. authorities are looking into “a number of points.”
“We will of course answer those questions and cooperate. At this point we are not being prosecuted. It is just a normal process which is happening.”
Chabas said SBM Offshore does not know what the focus of the investigation is. “The only thing we can guess is it probably linked to what happened in December in Brazil,” he said.
Last month Chabas and former board member Sietze Hepkema settled “personal favoritism” charges with Brazilian prosecutors for around $60,000 each, with no admission of guilt. (Editing by Alexander Smith)
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