Noble Execs Cut Deal with SEC Ahead of Bribery Trial

Posted by Eric Haun
Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Two executives from offshore drilling contractor Noble Corp have agreed to settle civil claims they participated in a bribery scheme to obtain permits for oil rigs in Nigeria, days before the case was set to go to trial.

Jury selection had been scheduled for next Monday in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's case against Mark Jackson, Noble's former chief executive officer, and James Ruehlen, director of the oil and gas services company's Nigerian subsidiary. The two men were sued under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which bans U.S. companies from bribing foreign officials.

A federal judge in Houston called off all trial deadlines on Tuesday pending a final settlement. The terms, which must be approved by a judge, were not disclosed in court papers.

While the FCPA has been the at the center of at least eight criminal trials since 2009, the case would have marked a rare instance of the SEC bringing a civil action to trial.

It also would also have marked the latest test of the SEC's enforcement powers following a mixed record before juries, most recently resulting in two insider trading losses.

The SEC sued Jackson and Ruehlen in 2012, two years after Noble agreed to pay $8 million to resolve related FCPA civil and criminal charges.

Noble in 2011 agreed to pay $2.5 million as part of a non-prosecution agreement with the Nigerian government.

The lawsuit against Jackson and Ruehlen centered on temporary import permits granted by Nigeria's customs service to Noble's local subsidiary that allowed rigs to remain in the country for a one-year period.

The customs service had the authority to grant up to three six-month extensions before the company would either need to receive a new temporary permit to export and re-import the rigs or permanently import them and pay significant duties.

The SEC contended Jackson and Ruehlen participated in a scheme to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to Nigerian customs officials to obtain 11 illicit permits and 29 extensions.

Both men denied the charges. Thomas O'Rourke, Noble's former head of internal audit, agreed in 2012 to pay a $35,000 penalty to resolve claims he aided and abetted the violations without admitting or denying the allegations.

The case is SEC v. Jackson, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Houston, No. 12-00563.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Tom Brown)

Maritime Reporter January 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Tanzania's Energy Minister Resigns

Tanzania's Energy and Minerals Minister Sospeter Muhongo resigned on Saturday amid a graft scandal that has rocked the gas-rich country and led Western donors to delay aid,

China's COSCO Group Returns to Profit

China Ocean Shipping Group Co (COSCO) returned to profit in 2014 after three years of losses, state media said on Saturday, citing an interview with the group's chairman.

Brent Closes Up, U.S. Crude Down After Saudi King Dies

Brent crude was buoyed on Friday by market uncertainty over the future of Saudi oil output, while U.S. crude fell on more signs of oversupply. Saudi Arabia's new king,

Legal

Tanzania's Energy Minister Resigns

Tanzania's Energy and Minerals Minister Sospeter Muhongo resigned on Saturday amid a graft scandal that has rocked the gas-rich country and led Western donors to delay aid,

China's COSCO Group Returns to Profit

China Ocean Shipping Group Co (COSCO) returned to profit in 2014 after three years of losses, state media said on Saturday, citing an interview with the group's chairman.

Peru Grants Permit for Chinese-owned Mine

The government has granted Chinese-owned Jinzhao Mining Peru the environmental permit for its proposed $1.5 billion Pampa de Pongo iron mine, estimated to produce 22.

News

Tanzania's Energy Minister Resigns

Tanzania's Energy and Minerals Minister Sospeter Muhongo resigned on Saturday amid a graft scandal that has rocked the gas-rich country and led Western donors to delay aid,

Oil Majors to Preserve Dividends Despite Oil Collapse

Europe's oil majors will strike a sober note in their fourth-quarter results and investors will focus on companies' plans to maintain cherished dividends and

China's COSCO Group Returns to Profit

China Ocean Shipping Group Co (COSCO) returned to profit in 2014 after three years of losses, state media said on Saturday, citing an interview with the group's chairman.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Simulators Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1704 sec (6 req/sec)