WASHINGTON (CN) – The SEC said it will get nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in fines and disgorgement from seven oil services and freight forwarding companies that bribed foreign customs officials. One of the companies – Transocean, the world’s largest offshore drilling contractor – owned the drilling rig that exploded and set off the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster. The SEC settlement with Transocean involved its operations in Nigeria.
The SEC announced the settlements on Thursday. It claims the companies violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by paying millions of dollars in bribes to customs officials in more than 10 countries to duck import duties, extend drilling contracts, get false documents and reduce their taxes.
The seven companies will pay fines and disgorgement of $236.5 million, the SEC said. The agency worked with the Justice Department’s fraud section.
Panalpina, a U.S. subsidiary of the Swiss freight forwarding company, will disgorge $11.3 million and pay a criminal fine of $70.6 million.
Pride International, one of the world’s largest offshore drillers, will disgorge $23.5 million and pay a criminal fine of $32.5 million.
Royal Dutch Shell will disgorge $18.1 million and pay a criminal fine of $30 million.
Tidewater, a New Orleans-based shipping company, will disgorge $8.1 million and Tidewater Marine International will pay a fine of $7.4 million.
Transocean will disgorge $7.3 million and pay a criminal fine of $13.4 million.
GlobalSantaFe Corp., an offshore drilling services provider, will disgorge $3.8 million and pay a fine of $2.1 million.
Noble Corp., another offshore drilling services provider, will disgorge $5.6 million and pay a criminal fine of $2.6 million.
Transocean is scheduled to present its version of the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico to the National Oil Spill Commission next week. Transocean has maintained that it was operating at the direction of BP, and therefore should be protected from liability for the spill and its consequences.