Cobalt Receives Wells Notice In SEC’s FCPA Investigation

August 27, 2014 — The Foreign Corruption Practices Act (FCPA) is an effective tool for discouraging multinational corporations from unfairly positioning themselves abroad by paying off foreign government officials or their family members with cash or lavish gifts. To redress the problem of foreign bribery, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 provides for significant financial rewards to whistleblowers willing to collaborate with the government to end illegal FCPA violations.

SEC Investigating Whether Cobalt Paid Foreign Bribes Relating To Angolan Oil Interests

SEC staff members are recommending that Cobalt International Energy Inc. be assessed penalties for alleged FCPA violations in Angola. In a Wells Notice recently received by Cobalt, the SEC indicated that if foreign bribery allegations were found, civil penalties might be imposed along with the disgorgement of profits and prejudgment interest.
Since 2011, the SEC has been investigating Cobalt related to two oil blocks off the coast of Angola that are currently being explored for future drilling. The SEC is reportedly investigating whether Nazaki Oil and Gas SA, a contractor that the Angolan government assigned to the oil blocks, payed bribes to senior government officials. Cobalt told the U.S. government in 2012 that it had not previously worked with Nazaki and had only “limited” familiarity with the contractor. Cobalt maintained that it was unaware of the SEC’s foreign bribery allegations. According to Cobalt, Nazaki has denied any FCPA violations.

Insiders Notify Government About Foreign Bribery Schemes

While Waters & Kraus is not handling this particular FCPA case, we are representing whistleblowers in similar matters involving foreign bribery violations. If you have similar claims against your employer or another business, email us or call our qui tam attorneys at 855.784.0268 to learn more about our practice and how we can collaborate with the government to redress illegal foreign bribery schemes. Our experienced lawyers, such as Paul Lawrence in the firm’s Washington D.C. area office, are devoted to working to level the playing field in international business operations.

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