Shell settles bribery charges

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The Independent Online

Royal Dutch Shell and six other companies have agreed to pay more than $156m (£96m) in fines to settle foreign bribery charges in the US.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, the US market watchdog, alleged that the companies, which include the offshore drilling services group Transocean and drilling company Pride International, had bribed customs officials in more than 10 countries in return for various perks, including the extension of drilling contacts and the avoidance of applicable customs duties on imported goods.

Shell and its indirect subsidiary Shell International Exploration and Production (SIEP), were alleged to have violated the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by using a customs broker to make payments to officials at the Nigerian Customs Service between 2002 and 2005. The payments, the SEC alleged, were made to obtain preferential treatment related to a Nigerian project. Shell and SIEP will pay disgorgement and judgment interest of just over $18m. The oil giant's Nigerian unit, Shell Nigerian Exploration and Production Co, will pay a criminal fine of $30m.

In all, without admitting or denying the allegations and in addition paying the fines, Shell and the six other companies paid about $80m in disgorgement, interest and penalties.