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US firm fined $11.76m for bribing Nigerian officials

By The Citizen

The United States Department of Justice on Tuesday said a publicly listed company, Parker Drilling Services, had agreed to pay an $11.76m fine for allegedly bribing Nigerian government officials from January to May 2004 through an unnamed intermediary.

In a statement, the department said the firm was fined for transferring $1.25m to the agent, who reported spending a portion of the money on 'entertaining' Nigerian government officials.

The statement read in part, 'According to court documents, in 2001 and 2002, Panalpina World Transport (Nigeria) Limited, working on Parker Drilling's behalf, avoided certain costs associated with complying with Nigeria's customs laws by fraudulently claiming that Parker Drilling's rigs had been exported and then re-imported into Nigeria.

'In late 2002, Nigeria formed a government commission, commonly called the Temporary Import Panel, to examine whether Nigeria's Customs Service had collected certain duties and tariffs that Nigeria was due. In December 2002, the TI panel commenced proceedings against Parker Drilling. The TI panel later determined that Parker Drilling had violated Nigeria's customs laws and assessed a $3.8m fine against Parker Drilling.

'According to court documents, rather than pay the assessed fine, Parker Drilling contracted indirectly with an intermediary agent to resolve its customs issues. From January to May 2004, Parker Drilling transferred $1.25m to the agent, who reported spending a portion of the money on various things, including entertaining government officials.

'Emails in which the agent requested additional money from Parker Drilling referenced the agent's interactions with Nigeria's Ministry of Finance, State Security Service, and a delegation from the President's office.