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SEC asks Tesco about FCPA, use of agents

Oil and gas services firm Tesco Corporation said this week the SEC asked it to 'preserve and retain' documents related to FCPA compliance and its use of commercial agents in an undisclosed country.

'On December 26, 2012,' Tesco said, 'we received a request by the staff of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") that the Company take steps to preserve and retain five categories of documents relating to commercial agents who perform services for the corporate group in a foreign jurisdiction, the Company's general use of commercial agents in that jurisdiction, and compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.'

Houston-based Tesco has about 2,000 employees in 23 countries. It develops technology for oil and gas drilling on land or subsea.

The company's disclosure said,

We have, under the advice and through independent external legal counsel, cooperated with and have provided the SEC staff with specific information which it has requested. External legal counsel for the Company has been advised by the SEC staff that no formal order of investigation has been issued.

Among the countries where Tesco lists operations are Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador, as well as Mexico, Venezuela, Russia, Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. In Asia, the company lists locations in China, Malaysia, and Indonesia, among others.

The disclosure appeared in the company's Form 10-K filed with the SEC Tuesday.

Tesco said the SEC's request stated that it 'should not be construed as an indication by the Commission, or its staff, that any violations of law have occurred; nor should it be considered an adverse reflection upon any person, entity, or security.'

Tesco provided no other details.

The narrowness of the SEC's request indicates it may have been triggered by information from a whistleblower.

Tesco trades on NASDAQ under the symbol TESO.

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