Former Sevan Marine employees involved in bribery case in Brazil?

Norwegian engineering company Sevan Marine on Friday said that some of its former employees might have been involved in a bribery case with Brazilian national oil company Petrobras.

According to the company, the internal investigation conducted by a law firm Selmar DA that Sevan Marine had hired in relation to allegations linking the Norwegian company to a bribery scandal in Brazil revealed that the possible wrongdoings were connected to the people who have left the company.

To remind, based on Brazilian press articles indicating irregularities involving Sevan Marine in the period 2005-2008, the company in June 2015 hired Selmer DA to conduct an internal investigation. At the time, Sevan Marine was not only an engineering company. It used to own, operate and license FPSOs and drilling units, based on its patented cylindrical floater technology.

Sevan Marine on Friday announced that the Board has received the investigation report from Selmer DA and has decided to hand it over to ØKOKRIM, the Norwegian authority for investigation and prosecution of economic and environmental crime.

Sevan Marine said that Selmer had performed the investigation from June to October 2015. According to Sevan Marine, the investigation has been focusing on the circumstances and facts surrounding how contracts with the Brazilian national oil company Petrobras were obtained.

The contracts were awarded in the period 2005-2008.

The investigation involved document review and searches in available files as well as interviews with key individuals. Sevan Marine added that the contracts were awarded in the period 2005-2008.

The Norwegian company reminds it was restructured in 2011 and at that time disposed of its asset-based activities through the demerger and subsequent IPO of the drilling activities and the sale of FPSO assets. At this time, Sevan Marine says, payments under related agency agreements from the company came to an end. In connection with the restructuring, the company got a new shareholder structure, board and management.

“Sevan is today a technology and engineering company with a changed business strategy,” Sevan Marine says.


Improper payments made?


The company’s statement further reads: “The main conclusion of the independent corporate investigator is that it is more likely than not, that illegal conduct in the form of improper payments to obtain business occurred when Petrobras awarded contracts to Sevan in the said time period (2005-2008) regarding Sevan Piranema, Sevan Driller and Sevan Brasil. There are indications of suspicious acts and transactions, constituting both a neglect of Sevan’s affairs and/or a conflict with Sevan’s interests and such acts may potentially represent economic crime.”

Saying that there are limitations as to what more a private party can realistically achieve by further investigative steps, Sevan Marine added that the Board of Directors has handed over the Report to ØKOKRIM.

The company said it would make available pieces of evidence and documentation secured in the investigation. It added that the Board of Directors has contacted the relevant prosecutors’ offices in other concerned jurisdictions (US, UK and Brazil) in coordination with counsels retained in the relevant jurisdictions.


The Board of Directors is assessing further actions and implications of the findings contained in the investigation


Sevan also said that, during the investigation, it has been suggested in Brazilian media that Petrobras executives allegedly provided privileged information to investors regarding signing of contracts between Petrobras and Sevan Marine. Such information has been shared with the Oslo Stock Exchange and ØKOKRIM. The conclusion from the on-going Investigation pertaining to this will be disclosed when available, the company said.

The Board of Directors is assessing further actions and implications of the findings contained in the investigation, the company added.

Chairperson Siri Hatlen said: “With regret the Board of Directors has noted the findings from the independent corporate investigation related to contracts awarded in the period 2005-2008. The Board of Directors has decided to hand over the investigation report to ØKOKRIM.”

“Sevan as a listed company is dependent on our reputation as a trustworthy business partner. Sevan practises no tolerance for corruption and is dedicated to comply with all relevant laws and principles for proper business conduct.”

“Sevan will continue to cooperate with relevant authorities,” Hatlen concluded.