Noble execs settle bribery charges

Accused bribery: FCPA case hits settlement agreement before trial

The US Securities & Exchange Commission appears to have reached an agreement with two Noble Corporation executives to settle bribery charges in connection with rig shipments to and from Nigeria.

Court records from a Tuesday status conference indicate remaining deadlines were cancelled for the case, which is "pending final settlement documents." No terms were disclosed.

Attorneys for both sides did not immediately respond to a request for a comment from Upstream.

The SEC brought charges in February 2012 against former Noble chief executive Mark Jackson and James Ruehlen, head of the company's Nigeria unit, for violations of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the country.

The drilling contractor settled the case on a corporate basis in November 2010, agreeing to avoid the practice, pay a charge of $5.5 million and a criminal fine of $2.6 million.

Former controller Thomas O’Rourke also previously agreed to a settlement.

The SEC in a statement previously alleged the two executives “bribed customs officials to process false paperwork purporting to show the export and re-import of oil rigs, when in fact the rigs never moved."

“The scheme was designed to save Noble Corporation from losing business and incurring significant costs associated with exporting rigs from Nigeria and re-importing them under new permits,”the agency said.

The scheme took place from 2003 to 2007 and also involved the falsification of documents to shareholders and the board of directors, the SEC claims.

The SEC had been seeking an injunction and civil penalties, which can mount to $10,000, with additional penalties of up to $100,000 per violation.

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