Sinopec’s subsidiary, Addax Petroleum has agreed to pay 31 million Swiss francs ($32 million) to settle charges of suspected bribery of foreign officials, the Geneva prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday.
According to Reuters, prosecutors for the Swiss canton of Geneva investigated the company, whose chief executive officer and legal director were also charged, over several tens of millions of dollars in payments to a company and several lawyers in Nigeria.
A four-month investigation found the payments were not sufficiently documented and doubts remained on their legality, but no criminal intent was established, the Geneva prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
It added that Addax acknowledged possible organisational shortcomings and had taken measures to improve internal anti-corruption procedures.
With this settlement the cases against the CEO and legal director have also been closed, a spokesman for the prosecutor said.
Addax was bought by China’s state-owned Sinopec, Asia’s largest oil refiner in 2009.
It would be recalled that Zhang Yi, the Chief Executive Officer of Addax Petroleum in Geneva, Switzerland was arrested in March over questionable dealings he had in Nigeria.
Prosecutors in Geneva have not released details about and specifics about his offense back in Nigeria but Addax Petroleum has confirmed his arrest.
The company is also keeping mum on the allegations that led to the arrest of Zhang Yi
Reuters News Agency claimed that Sinopec, China’s largest oil company has sued Addax Petroleum on criminal grounds over matters that might be related to Mr. Zhang Yi’s alledged offenses.
A spokesman for the Geneva Prosecutors, Henri della Casa confirmed that Zhang Yinka and the legal director for the company have both being arrested for bribery.
“I can confirm that the Geneva prosecutor has opened a criminal investigation into bribery of foreign officials and that the company Addax and its director-general and legal director are the subject of it,” della Casa said.
“Le Temps quoted Saverio Lembo, a Geneva lawyer for Addax CEO Zhang Yi, as saying: “My client vigorously contests the charges against him. He plans to defend himself. For the rest, we will not comment on the procedure under way,” Reuters said.
The Communications Representative, Addax Petroleum Nigeria Limited, Mr. Michael Owhoko ‘who confirmed the story in a statement yesterday said’ Addax Petroleum confirms that a criminal investigation is being conducted by the Geneva Prosecutor’s Office in relation to allegations focusing primarily on the Company’s business in Nigeria. Addax Petroleum is taking this matter very seriously and will be responding appropriately to the investigation.”
It is not clear if Nigeria’s EFCC an antigraft agency has been alerted on the matter.
Addax Petroleum was originally part of the Addax & Oryx Group of Companies (AOG) which was founded in 1987. The company was acquired by Dino per in 2009.