Wednesday, July 7, 2010
The SEC today charged Italian company ENI, S.p.A. and its former Dutch subsidiary Snamprogetti Netherlands B.V. with multiple violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in a bribery scheme that included deliveries of cash-filled briefcases and vehicles to Nigerian government officials to win construction contracts. Snamprogetti and ENI will jointly pay $125 million to settle the SEC's charges, and Snamprogetti will pay an additional $240 million penalty to settle separate criminal proceedings announced today by the U.S. Department of Justice.
ENI and Snamprogetti are the latest to be charged in the decade-long Nigerian bribery scheme conducted by a joint venture of companies that also included Technip and KBR, Inc., both named in previous SEC enforcement actions. Technip, KBR and its former parent Halliburton Company paid a combined $917 million to settle FCPA charges. The $365 million to be paid by ENI and Snamprogetti brings the total sanctions against the companies involved in the scheme to more than $1.28 billion.
According to the SEC's complaint against ENI and Snamprogetti, filed today in federal district court in Houston, senior executives at Snamprogetti and the other joint venture companies authorized the hiring of two agents, a U.K. solicitor and a Japanese trading company, through which more than $180 million in bribes were funneled to Nigerian government officials to obtain several contracts to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities on Bonny Island, Nigeria. The Nigerian government exercised majority control over the company that awarded the contracts — Nigeria LNG Ltd.
Without admitting or denying the SEC's allegations, Snamprogetti has consented to the entry of a court order permanently enjoining it from violating the anti-bribery and recordkeeping and internal controls provisions in Sections 30A and 13(b)(5) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 13b2-1, and ENI has consented to the entry of a court order permanently enjoining it from violating the recordkeeping and internal controls provisions in Sections 13(b)(2)(A) and 13(b)(2)(B) of the Exchange Act. Snamprogetti and ENI also consented to the entry of court orders that require them, jointly and severally, to pay $125 million in disgorgement. The proposed settlements are subject to court approval.
In the related criminal proceeding announced today, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a criminal action against Snamprogetti, charging one count of conspiring to violate the FCPA and one count of aiding and abetting violations of the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA. Snamprogetti has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ and agreed to pay a criminal penalty of $240 million.