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Wednesday
Jan272016

SBM Offshore chief and board member settle Petrobras allegations with Brazil prosecutors

Image courtesy of SBM OffshoreThe chief executive of SBM Offshore, Bruno Chabas, and supervisory board member Sietze Hepkema, have reached an out of court settlement with Brazilian authorities tied to the ongoing Petrobras corruption probe, with small fines and no admission of guilt.

In a statement posted on its website Monday, SBM Offshore said it learned on January 15 that a judge in Brazil referred the allegations against both men back to the public prosecutor to propose an out-of-court settlement, on a no admission of guilt basis.

Chabas and Hepkema both accepted the offer and agreed to pay fines of about $60,000 each.

Netherlands-based SBM Offshore said it will pay both fines.

The company said this type of settlement "is common for misdemeanors of the kind alleged" but didn't provide more details about the allegations.

The statement Monday said,

The company emphasizes that this settlement does not involve an admission of guilt and remains of the opinion that the accusations are without merit. However, SBM Offshore also believes that accepting the settlement offers a pragmatic opportunity to expeditiously resolve this matter that avoids long and costly legal proceedings and allows the company's management team to concentrate on the business.

In the statement, SBM's supervisory board also affirmed its support for Chabas and Hepkema.

The company provides floating production systems for the oil and gas industry. Petrobras, Brazil's state-owned energy giant, is one of its biggest customers.

In late 2014, SBM paid $240 million to Dutch authorities to settle allegations that it bribed government officials in Angola, Brazil, and Equatorial Guinea. The U.S. Justice Department dropped an investigation into the company when the Dutch settlement was announced.

The company said an internal investigation in 2014 found "certain red flags" in Brazil but "did not find any credible evidence that the company or the company’s agent made improper payments to government officials (including state company employees)."

The plea deal in Brazil must still be confirmed by the judge handling the case. He hasn't set the confirmation date.

The company said last month it was seeking clarification about reports that Chabas and Hepkema appeared on a list of current and former Petrobras executives, sales agents, and SBM Offshore executives who may be prosecuted in Brazil for the Petrobras corruption scandal.

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A version of this post first appeared on Petro Global News and is republshed here with permission.