Swiss investigating SBM Offshore subsidiaries over past corruption


AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Swiss authorities said on Monday they had launched a criminal investigation into three subsidiaries of Netherlands-based SBM Offshore for allegedly failing to prevent past corruption of foreign government officials.

The case was launched in September by the Swiss Attorney General’s Office, it said in a statement sent to Reuters.

SBM has paid hundreds of millions of dollars (euros) over the past decade to settle bribery cases in the Netherlands, Brazil and the United States.

The Swiss entities are suspected of not having taken “all reasonable and necessary organizational measures to prevent the commission of offences of bribery of foreign public officials,” the Attorney General’s office said.

Proceedings were linked to the prosecution of a former senior executive of the SBM group, it said.

No individuals were named by either SBM or the Swiss officials, but SBM’s chairman from 2005 to 2015 was a Swiss national.

SBM said in a statement earlier Monday that the Swiss inquiry “concerns a suspicion that from 2005 till 2012 these subsidiaries failed to take the necessary measures to prevent the execution of corrupt payments.”

SBM paid $240 million to Dutch authorities in 2014 to settle the bribery of officials in Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Brazil. The company later paid more than $500 million to settle Brazilian and U.S. claims.

Erik Lagendijk, chief governance and compliance officer said the company would cooperate with the probe: “We did not expect this development in Switzerland as Swiss authorities have been involved in the matter from the time of the settlement in the Netherlands in 2014. We will engage with the Swiss public prosecutor and seek clarification.”

The suspicions raised by the Swiss were related to “compliance controls shortcoming” covered by past agreements with Dutch and U.S. Authorities, SBM said in a statement.

SBM Offshore spokesman Aarne Luten “it is too early to comment” on a possible provision for a potential fine by Swiss authorities.

The company’s shares fell 3.5% in Amsterdam trading.

(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch and Michael Shields; Editing by Bernadette Baum)