Oil drilling firms pay $26M settlement

Oil drilling firms pay $26M settlement

Three oil drilling companies accused of bribing Nigerian officials for fast customs clearance will pay the U.S. government $26 million in the largest criminal settlement of foreign corruption charges, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

The companies are subsidiaries of British-based Vetco International Limited, and at least one of them settled similar bribery charges in 2004.

A Justice Department official said the companies ”” Vetco Gray UK Limited, Vetco Gray Controls Inc., and Vetco Gray Controls Limited ”” paid Nigerian customs officers $2.1 million to speed equipment and employees into the country.

The payments, 378 in all, were largely processed through Vetco Gray Controls, Inc., which is based in Houston. The three companies are expected to sign off on the settlement in U.S. District Court in Houston later Tuesday, said the Justice official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the hearing had not yet occurred.

In July 2004, Vetco Gray UK Limited agreed to pay a $5.25 million fine for bribing Nigerian government officials more than $1 million for insider bid information on oil and gas construction contracts worth $12 million.

Source: AP via news.yahoo.com

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