Learning from Enforcement Actions: SBM Offshore and Compliance Allies
Last month, two former executives at SBM Offshore, a Dutch oil and gas services company, Anthony “Tony” Mace and Robert Zubiate, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the FCPA for their roles in a scheme to bribe foreign government officials in Brazil, Angola, and Equatorial Guinea. The company has paid a combined worldwide total in criminal penalties in excess of $475 million related to these corrupt schemes.
Mace and Zubiate engaged in a number of questionable activities, including authorizing the company to split payments to SBM’s Brazilian intermediary (paying a portion of the intermediary’s commission to an account in Brazil and another portion of the agent’s commission to accounts in Switzerland held in the name of shell companies); failing to identify the ultimate recipients of the authorized payments (shell companies owned by government officials); and utilizing a third party agent to pay bribes to foreign officials in exchange for those officials’ assisting SBM with winning bids.
What are some controls that your company has in place to avoid this type of activity? Third party due diligence is critical, and we have also seen clients require third party checking account verification, particularly in high-risk transactions. How have you leveraged your working relationship with the accounting function to maintain compliance?