On November 21, 2008, oil field services provider Aibel Group Ltd. (“Aibel”), a United Kingdom corporation with operations in Norway and elsewhere, pleaded guilty to a two count superseding Information charging it with a substantive violation of the FCPA, and conspiracy to violate the FCPA.23 In connection with its plea, Aibel admitted that it was not in compliance with the requirements of the Deferred Prosecution Agreement it entered into with the Department in February 2007 regarding the same underlying criminal conduct.24 Aibel agreed to pay a $4.2 million criminal fine to settle the charges and was placed on organizational probation for a period of two years. Under the terms of that probation, Aibel must, among other things, submit periodic reports regarding its progress in implementing antibribery compliance initiatives. As described in the plea agreement, Aibel agreed to submit two written reports to the Department, from Norwegian and U.S. counsel, describing its efforts to implement controls and systems to comply with Norwegian and any other applicable anti-bribery laws.
The conduct underlying the Deferred Prosecution Agreement, which formed the basis for the charges, involved a conspiracy between Aibel’s predecessor company and others, including several then-affiliated companies, to make at least 378 corrupt payments totaling approximately $2.1 million to Nigerian customs service officials in exchange for preferential treatment during the customs process. The illicit payments were made through a major international freight forwarding and customs clearance company, often coordinated through an Aibel affiliate’s office in the United States. Notably, this is the third time since July 2004 that entities affiliated with Aibel have pleaded guilty to violating the FCPA.