The allegations concern contract payments Schlumberger made to a consulting firm, Zonic Invest, which has ties to Yemen's government. At the time, Schlumberger sought approval to create an oil-exploration databank in Yemen, according to the Journal sources and company documents it reviewed. Yemeni authorities urged Schlumberger to hire Zonic, whose general director is the nephew of Yemen's president. Zonic made several demands, including a signing bonus of $500,000.
The DOJ investigation is at an early stage. Investigators have been in touch with former Schlumberger employees who say they have knowledge of internal allegations made at the company and of its internal probes.
With this, Schlumberger joins several pharmaceutical companies, General Electric (GE), which recently announced that it had reached a $23.5 million settlement over bribery charges, and others that are being probed for bribery overseas. The Journal adds that oil-service companies often work in nations ranked as among the most corrupt and they've become a familiar target of FCPA investigations.