Weatherford International settles U.S. foreign bribe probes
BY TOM SCHOENBERG
HOUSTON (Bloomberg) -- Weatherford International, a Swiss-based oil services company, agreed to pay more than $252 million to settle U.S. allegations it bribed officials in Congo and Iraq, and violated sanctions against countries including Iran, Syria and Cuba.
Weatherford will enter into deferred prosecution agreements with the U.S. and agreed to hire a corporate compliance monitor, according to a federal court filing in Houston by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Penalties the company agreed to pay include an $87.2 million criminal fine for the alleged bribery, and $100 million to resolve criminal and administrative probes into sanctions violations, according to a Department of Justice statement.
From 2002 to July 2011, Weatherford and its units “authorized bribes and improper travel and entertainment intended for foreign officials in multiple countries to obtain or retain business or for other benefits,” the SEC said in its complaint.
The world’s fourth-largest oilfield services provider took a $100-million charge in the second quarter last year in preparation for today’s settlement involving improper sales to nations under U.S. trade sanctions.
In the second quarter this year, the company estimated a loss of $153 million for payments to U.S. government agencies for investigations related to the United Nations’ oil-for-food program and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.