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Bribes Called Rampant at Oil Firm

HOUSTON (CN) - Directors of Pride International, offshore drillers, paid millions of dollars in bribes to government officials to get contracts from "Venezuela, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Nigeria, Libya, Angola, Republic of the Congo, Malaysia and India," shareholders say in a derivative complaint in Harris County Court.

The Houston-based company was investigated by the SEC and The Department of Justice after an unknown informant complained. "The individual defendants were aware of the violations well before the company announced the FCPA [Foreign Corrupt Practice Act] investigation to the company's shareholders and to the public at large [in 2006,]" according to the complaint.

"To date the company has spent millions of dollars conducting the FCPA investigation and is likely to incur substantial additional expenses before the FCPA investigation is concluded," the shareholders say. They say Pride officials should bear the cost of the internal audit.

Former CEO Paul Bragg and Chairman of the Board A.B. David Brown are lead defendants, along with former vice president John Blocker and directors Archie Dunham, Frank Kalman and Ralph McBride.

The plaintiffs are represented by Daniel Gartner.

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