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In recent years, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have used the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to place increasing regulatory pressure on foreign energy deals, particularly transactions involving government licenses. The oil and gas sector has been especially vulnerable to corruption because most of the world’s energy resources are located in developing countries that lack the infrastructure and controls needed to limit illegal activity.

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Case Study

Company: Royal Dutch Shell PLC
Charges: Bribing foreign officials
Penalty:

$48 million


Royal Dutch Shell PLC (“Shell”) is a global oil and gas company that was founded in 1907 and is headquartered in the Netherlands. The company fully integrated, with substantial operations in each stage of the oil production process, including exploration & production, refining, distribution, marketing, petrochemical manufacturing, power generation and trading. Shell also runs renewable energy initiatives in the areas of biofuels, hydrogen, solar and wind power.

On November 4, 2010, Shell was charged with violating the FCPA by using a customs broker to make payments to officials at the Nigerian Customs Service in order to obtain preferential customs treatment related to a project in Nigeria. The alleged violations took place from 2002 to 2005.  According to the SEC, Shell “…resorted to lucrative arrangements behind the scenes to obtain phony paperwork and special favors, and [the company] landed themselves squarely in investigators' crosshairs."

Shell agreed to a cease-and-desist order and will pay disgorgement and prejudgment interest of $18.1 million. The Shell Nigerian Exploration and Production Co. Ltd. on the other hand have to pay a criminal fine of $30 million.

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