Seven companies involved in the oil industry -- including Transocean (RIG), the company that owned the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded and leaked oil into the Gulf of Mexico for three months earlier this year -- will pay the U.S. government a total of $236.5 million to settle charges that they bribed overseas officials to lower customs duties, extend drilling contacts and streamline permitting for oil-drilling rigs, among other things.

Aside from Transocean, the companies include Royal Dutch Shell (RDS), Panalpina World Transport (PLWTF), Pride International (PDE), Tidewater (TDW), GlobalSantaFe (now part of a Transocean subsidary) and Noble (NE), allegedly bribed officials in more than 10 countries, according to an investigation the Securities and Exchange Commission conducted together with the Justice Department. The companies, which neither admitted nor denied the charges, will pay $156.5 million to settle criminal charges with the Justice Department and $80 million to settle SEC charges.

Switzerland-based Panalpina, a global freight forwarding company, will pay the most: $82 million. Oil services company Pride will pay $56 million, while oil company Shell owes $48 million.

In a separate statement Thursday, Panalpina said it spent about $130 million on consultants to ensure it meets all of its reporting and compliance obligations. The company, which reviewed its operations in 33 countries, shuttered operations in three of those countries, including Nigeria, because "compliance risks were too pervasive," according to the statement.

"We have enhanced our compliance program and internal controls to better ensure employees and contractors strictly adhere to Shell's General Business Principles and applicable laws," Shell said in its own statement Thursday. "Staff found to be in violation of policy were either disciplined or dismissed from Shell."

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Isn't "settling charges with cash" a bribe itself to the US Govt.??

November 05 2010 at 7:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

$236.5 million is a drop in a bucket peanut! No justice, on-going corruption at its best...

November 04 2010 at 11:38 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Isn't this great no one going to jail just a fine, and not much of a fine either. Why don't we all go out and rob banks there can't be much of a penalty for that. Seems to me there is no justice in this country .

November 04 2010 at 11:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply