US government fines Weatherford International $253 over global corruption charges
US government fines Weatherford International $253m over global corruption charges (W Magazine / Weatherford International).

The US government has fined Weatherford International, the Geneva-based oil services firm, hundreds of millions of dollars for bribing foreign officials and selling products to countries facing sanctions.

Under the terms of the settlement with US law enforcement and regulatory agencies, Weatherford must pay $253m (£155m, €186m) to settle charges it bribed officials in Iraq and Congo and violated sanctions against countries including Iran, Syria and Cuba.

The deal is subject to court approval.

Weatherford allegedly violated US export laws and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

Weatherford also faces civil charges from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the US Treasury and Commerce Departments.

It was charged with selling oil and gas equipment to Iran, Syria, Sudan and Cuba in violation of sanctions, and shipping items prohibited for nuclear nonproliferation reasons to Mexico and Venezuela.

Three of the company's subsidiaries pleaded guilty to the charges, reported Reuters.

In Algeria, Weatherford supposedly funded a trip for two Sonatrach officials to the 2006 FIFA World Cup football tournament in Germany. That same year, it paid for a honeymoon for the daughter of a Sonatrach official.

The SEC accused Weatherford of destroying evidence and misleading investigators. In one instance, company employees told investigators that a manager in Iraq, whom the SEC wanted to interview, "was missing or dead when, in fact, he remained employed by Weatherford," SEC attorney Jennifer Brandt said in the complaint, reported Bloomberg.

The conduct of Weatherford's subsidiaries "allowed it to earn millions of dollars in illicit profits, for which it is now paying the price," Mythili Raman, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's criminal division, said in a statement.

"Whether the money went to tax auditors in Albania or officials at the state-owned oil company in Angola, bribes and improper payments were an accustomed way for Weatherford to conduct business," Kara Brockmeyer, chief of the FCPA unit of the SEC's Enforcement Division, said in a statement.

"This matter is now behind us. We move forward fully committed to a sustainable culture of compliance," Weatherford chairman and chief executive Bernard J Duroc-Danner said in a statement.

"With the internal policies and controls currently in place, we maintain a best-in-class compliance program and uphold the highest of ethical standards as we provide the industry's leading products and services to our customers worldwide," Duroc-Danner added.

The SEC case is US Securities and Exchange Commission versus Weatherford International Ltd., 13-cv-03500, US District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).