THE SERIOUS Fraud Office (SFO) has entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Limited (AFWEL) relating to the use of corrupt agents in the oil and gas sector. The DPA was approved on 1 July by Lord Justice Edis sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice.
Under the terms of the DPA, AFWEL will pay a financial penalty and costs amounting to £103 million in the UK, which forms part of the US$177 million global settlement with UK, US and Brazilian authorities. The amounts to be paid by AFWEL in the UK include payment of the SFO’s costs of £3.4 million and payment of compensation to the people of Nigeria of £210,610.
In entering into the DPA, AFWEL has taken responsibility for ten offences of corruption relating to the use of corrupt agents in the oil and gas sector by the legacy Foster Wheeler business. The offences spanned the time period from 1996 to 2014 and took place across the world in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, India and Brazil.
Lisa Osofsky, director of the Serious Fraud Office, said: “Over a period of 18 years, Foster Wheeler Energy Limited brazenly and calculatedly paid bribes to officials around the world to cut corners and secure contracts, going to great lengths to conceal its corrupt conduct. In doing so, the company subverted the rule of law and harmed the integrity of the economy in the United Kingdom. We will continue to deliver justice for the taxpayer by punishing such actions and forcing companies to change for the better.”
Osofsky added: “Justice also means recovering money to compensate victims wherever possible. I’m delighted that we’ve been able to secure compensation for the Nigerian victims in this case.”
Accompanied by undertaking
The DPA is accompanied by an undertaking by John Wood Group plc, AFWEL’s current parent company, in which the former assumes responsibility for the payment of the financial penalty and the SFO’s costs and agrees to ongoing co-operation with the SFO and other law enforcement and regulatory authorities. John Wood Group plc will also report annually to the SFO on its Group-wide ethics and compliance programme.
In October 2017, John Wood Group plc purchased Amec Foster Wheeler plc, including its subsidiary AFWEL. John Wood Group plc was not involved in the indicted conduct and has co-operated fully with the SFO’s investigation.
Lord Justice Edis ruled that the total sum reflects the gravity of the conduct, the full co-operation of AFWEL and John Wood Group plc in the SFO’s investigation and the extensive remediation and compliance programme that has been put in place by John Wood Group plc (and which applies to the legacy Foster Wheeler entities).
This DPA is one of a number of co-ordinated global resolutions relating to the conduct of Foster Wheeler Energy Limited in Brazil, with settlements agreed in the United States by the Department of Justice and the US Securities and Exchange Commission and in Brazil by the Ministério Público Federal and the Controladoria-Geral da União. The SFO thanks these international partners for their assistance.
The DPA brings to a close the SFO’s almost four-year investigation into suspected bribery and corruption within the legacy Foster Wheeler and Amec Foster Wheeler businesses as far as the corporate entities are concerned. The investigation into the conduct of individual suspects continues.
The SFO may apply to resume the prosecution if AFWEL breaches the terms of the three-year DPA. If prosecution resumes, the Statement of Facts as published (in an anonymised form) will be admissible evidence in Court.
The DPA only relates to the criminal liability of AFWEL and does not address whether liability of any sort attaches to any other person, including any employee, agent, former employee or former agent of AFWEL.
*Upon determining the issue of approval of the DPA, the Court did not make findings of fact. No process took place by which the culpability of individual people was determined or assessed. The Court observed that companies act through individuals, and it was necessary to consider some individual conduct for that reason, but the Court did not hear from any individuals or call upon them for their side of the story. The judgement in the DPA solely dealt with the culpability of the company Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Limited and not that of any individual person. No findings of any kind were made against any individual
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