$250 Million for Commercial Bribery

HOUSTON (CN) – Weatherford International, an oil services company, will pay more than $250 million to settle criminal and civil charges of bribery and “improper” sales to sanctioned countries, the SEC said today.
     Weatherford, a Swiss corporation, has offices in Houston. The SEC sued it in Federal Court, and said in a statement that federal prosecutors filed parallel criminal charges.
     “Between at least 2002 and July 2011, Weatherford and its subsidiaries 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. “Weatherford and its subsidiaries also authorized illicit payments to obtain commercial business in Congo and authorized kickbacks in Iraq to obtain United Nations Oil for Food contracts. Weatherford realized over $59.3 million in profits from business obtained through the use of illicit payments.
     “In addition, from 2002 to 2007, Weatherford and its subsidiaries engaged
     in commercial transactions with Cuba, Iran, Syria and Sudan (‘sanctioned countries’)
     that violated U.S. sanction and export control laws.”
     In a statement announcing its settled complaint, the SEC said that Weatherford “used code names like ‘Dubai across the water’ to conceal references to Iran in internal correspondence, placed key transaction documents in mislabeled binders, and created whatever bogus accounting and inventory records were necessary to hide illegal transactions.”

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