Another top executive at Oslo-listed PetroNor E&P has been caught up in a graft investigation being carried out by the Norwegian authorities, while the US Department of Justice has now also started it own probe.
In December 2021, chief executive Knut Sovold and another unnamed individual were detained by Okokrim, Norway’s National Authority for the Investigation & Prosecution of Economic & Environmental Crime, in a probe related “to projects in Africa”.
PetroNor said Sovold and “his business companion… together hold shares in the company through their holding companies”.
Today, the company said it has received a notification from Okokrim that its board chairman Eyas Alhomouz — a US citizen — “has been made subject to the ongoing investigations carried out by Okokrim and has been given the status as suspect”.
The company added that the US DoJ has opened a separate investigation into these allegations, based on information from Okokrim.
PetroNor said no charges have been brought against the company or any of its group companies, stressing that it "takes anti-corruption and the matter at hand very seriously" and has adopted a number of remediation steps.
These include removing the individuals charged by Okokrim in December from business operations; engaging independent legal counsel to support the board's governance and compliance steps and initiating an independent fact-finding process to identify any misconduct and to analyse the causes of underlying conduct.
Other measures include setting up a separate board sub-committee to support the board on the matter at hand; assuring the further implementation of an effective anti-corruption and compliance programme, founded on its existing code of conduct, governing documents and related policies; and also instigating other remedial actions as deemed relevant to the situation.
PetroNor noted that these measures are led by the board's sub-committee which does not comprise any person subject to the charges or any investigation.
PetroNor operates or is a partner in multiple offshore licenses in Congo-Brazzaville, Gambia and Guinea-Bissau while acreage offshore Senegal is subject to a dispute.