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Wednesday
Jul022014

Ruehlen, Jackson settle with SEC

A docket entry from July 1 for the U.S. federal district court in Houston said all deadlines in the SEC's civil FCPA enforcement action against two former Noble executives have been vacated "pending final settlement documents."

Judge Keith B. Ellison made the docket entry Tuesday in SEC v. Jackson and Ruehlen (Case No. : 4:12-cv-00563) following a status hearing last week.

Mark Jackson was Noble Corporation's former CEO and William Ruehlen headed the company's Nigeria unit.

The SEC hasn't released any information about the apparent settlement.

The two were charged in February 2012 with bribing officials in Nigeria in exchange for illegal import permits for drilling rigs.

A third man, Thomas F. O’Rourke, Noble's former controller and head of internal audit, settled the SEC's civil charges in 2012 by paying a $35,000 penalty.

In May, Judge Ellison, pictured, denied motions for summary judgments filed by the SEC, and by Jackson and Ruehlen.

In 2010, Noble Corporation paid $8.1 million to settle FCPA offenses.

The case was part of an enforcement action against seven companies from the oil and gas industry.

The DOJ and SEC said Noble paid $74,000 to a Nigerian freight forwarding agent, knowing that some of the payments would be passed on as bribes to Nigerian customs officials. Noble falsely recorded the bribes as legitimate business expenses, the SEC said.

Jackson and Ruehlen denied the SEC charges. They argued there wasn't enough evidence of "corrupt intent" to charge them with books and records violations, and the alleged bribes were actually facilitation payments allowed under the FCPA.

After Judge Ellison denied their motions for summary judgments, he scheduled the trial to begin on July 9.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.