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Vantage Drilling Announces Closure Of DOJ Investigation, Just Don’t Call It A “Declination”

Vantage

I hope the usual suspects don’t muddy up the conversation again by calling this one a “declination.” (See here for the recent post).

As highlighted in this August 2015 post, Houston-based Vantage Drilling disclosed:

“In July 2015, we became aware of media reports that our agent utilized in the contracting of the Titanium Explorer drillship has entered into a plea arrangement with the Brazilian authorities in connection with the agent’s role in obtaining bribes on behalf of former Petrobras executives.  We have since confirmed that our agent, who has represented multiple international companies in their contracts with Petrobras, has entered into such discussions and provided evidence to the Brazilian authorities of an alleged bribery scheme between the former Petrobras executives and a former director of Vantage.

The former director, Mr. Su, was the sole owner of the company that owned the Titanium Explorer at the time the alleged bribe was paid.  We have not been contacted by any governmental authority in connection with these allegations.  However, we voluntarily contacted the SEC and the Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) to advise them of these recent developments.  We continue to investigate the matter, but as of now, our internal and independent investigations have found no evidence of wrongdoing by our employees or participation in any manner with the inappropriate acts alleged to have been conducted by the agent.

We cannot predict whether any governmental authority will seek to investigate this matter, or if a proceeding were opened, the scope or ultimate outcome of any such investigation. If the SEC or DOJ determines that we have violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (the “FCPA”), or if any governmental authority determines that we have violated applicable anti-bribery laws, they could seek civil and criminal sanctions, including monetary penalties, against us, as well as changes to our business practices and compliance programs, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.

On August 21, 2012, we filed a lawsuit against Mr.  Su, a former member of our Board of Directors and the owner of F3 Capital, our largest shareholder, asserting breach of fiduciary duties, fraud, fraudulent inducement and negligent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment based on Mr. Su’s conduct in his dealings with the Company both immediately prior to, and during his tenure as one of our directors. On June 20, 2014, we received notice that Mr. Su had filed a countersuit against the Company and certain of the Company’s current and former officers and directors. The countersuit alleges fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, negligent misrepresentation, tortious interference with contract, and unjust enrichment and seeks indemnification from us with respect to the matters that are the basis of our lawsuit.”

As highlighted in this May 2016 post, the company disclosed in pertinent part:

“In connection with our cooperation with the DOJ and SEC, we recently advised both agencies that in early 2010, we engaged outside counsel to investigate a report of allegations of improper payments to customs and immigration officials in Asia. That investigation was concluded in 2011, and we determined at that time that no disclosure was warranted; however, in an abundance of caution, we are reviewing the matter again in light of the allegations in the Petrobras matter.”

Yesterday, the company issued this release which states:

“[The company] has received a letter from the United States Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) acknowledging Vantage’s full cooperation in the DOJ’s investigation concerning possible violations by Vantage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (the “FCPA”), and indicating that the DOJ has closed its investigation without any action.

The investigation arose in 2015 from allegations of improper payments to former officials of Petróleo Brasileiro S.A (“Petrobras”) in connection with the contracting of the Titanium Explorer drillship to Petrobras. From the outset of the investigation, the Company has provided its full cooperation to the DOJ and the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”).

Mr. Ihab Toma, Vantage’s Chief Executive Officer, stated, “We are very pleased with the closure of the DOJ’s investigation. Vantage has been, and remains, firmly committed to conducting its operations in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, including the FCPA.”

It is the Company’s understanding that the parallel investigation by the SEC remains open at this time, and Vantage continues to cooperate with the SEC with regard to that investigation.”

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