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Corruption probe


US fines Weatherford $253 million


Regulators also accuse Weatherford employees of hindering their probe of violations of the United Nations oil-for-food program in Iraq (Keystone)

Regulators also accuse Weatherford employees of hindering their probe of violations of the United Nations oil-for-food program in Iraq

(Keystone)

Weatherford International, a Geneva-based oil services firm, has agreed to pay $253 million (CHF229 million) in fines to settle charges of corruption and violating US sanctions against Iran, Cuba and other countries.

US prosecutors had charged the multinational with exporting oil and gas equipment to Iran, Syria, Sudan and Cuba in violation of sanctions, and exporting items controlled for nuclear nonproliferation reasons to Venezuela and Mexico.

Three subsidiaries of Weatherford agreed to plead guilty to anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and export controls violations under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the US Justice Department said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Weatherford International and its subsidiaries have also agreed to pay more than $252 million in penalties and fines," the department declared.

According to the Treasury Department, Weatherford exported $23 million in goods, technology and services to Iran from 2003 to 2007.

From 2005 to 2008, the company had extensive business with Cuba, totaling $69 million. And from 2005 to 2006, Weatherford did about $295,000 worth of business with Sudan.

Business executives were also accused of engaging in bribery and payoffs in order to obtain contracts.

"Whether the money went to tax auditors in Albania or officials at the state-owned oil company in Angola, bribes and improper payments were an accustomed way for Weatherford to conduct business," Kara Brockmeyer from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division said in a statement.

On Tuesday Weatherford Chief Executive Bernard Duroc-Danner declared in a statement that the “matter is now behind us”.

“We move forward fully committed to a sustainable culture of compliance,” he added.

Weatherford is the world’s fourth-largest oilfield services firm and is based in Switzerland but has substantial operations in Houston. It operates in more than 100 countries and employs over 55,000 people worldwide.

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