Swiss-based and Chinese-owned Addax Petroleum has settled charges from the Geneva’s Public Prosecutor’s Office with a payment of 31 million francs (US$32.2 million). A statement from the prosecutor, on July 5, said the company and two officials were suspected of bribing foreign officials, with charges being made public in February of this year.
According to the statement, tens of millions of US dollars had been paid out to a company and lawyers in Nigeria, potentially going on to Nigerian officials, with the intention of bolstering Addax’s position.
The statement went on to say that, after investigations, the payments had been insufficiently documented and their legality was uncertain.
Admitting no criminal intent, the defendants did acknowledge shortcomings within the company. Addax was reported to have co-operated with the inquiry, has taken steps to change its Swiss-based management and pledged to improve internal compliance measures.
Following the payment, the case against Addax has been closed, the prosecutor’s office said.
Company filings in the UK reveal Addax’s CEO, Yi Zhang, had been removed as a director, replaced by Guangjun Chen. A report in Switzerland’s Le Temps said the company’s legal director, Guus Klusener, had retired at the end of June.
Problems were flagged up by Deloitte in October 2016, with the accountants going on to refuse to sign off the 2015 accounts. Deloitte found as much as US$100 million of potentially problematic payments in Nigeria, with more than US$20 million paid to lawyers in Nigeria and the US. The remaining amount was paid to an engineering company for work on the Antan and Udele-Ofrima fields.
Deloitte did not name the engineering company but Kaztec Engineering, part of Emeka Offor’s Chrome Group, carried out construction work on the platforms. The accountant cited embezzlement and questionable payments to officials among its concerns.