Canadian court accepts Griffiths bribery settlement
CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - A Calgary-based oil company that admitted to bribing the wife of a Chadian diplomat will pay a C$10.35 million ($10.26 million) fine after a Canadian court accepted a settlement between the company and prosecutors on Friday.
Privately-held Griffiths Energy International told a judge this week that its own investigation revealed the crime that took place under previous management in 2009 and that it turned its findings over to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Griffiths pleaded guilty under Canada's Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.
According to an agreed statement of facts, company executives paid a consulting company owned by the wife of Chad's then-ambassador to Canada $2 million in hopes of helping land exploration blocks in the impoverished African country.
The contract was for "advisory, logistics, operational and other assistance" in Chad, the statement said. The ambassador and his wife, now based in South Africa, were not available for comment this week.
The payment, along with a granting of Griffiths shares to the wife of the diplomat and two other individuals, was discovered as the company was preparing for an initial public offering in late 2011. That IPO was subsequently canceled.
"Griffiths Energy regrets the actions of the prior management and board," company president Gary Guidry said in a statement. "When we discovered the contracts we blew the whistle and cooperated with the authorities because this is how Griffiths Energy's current management and board conduct business."
With the matter closed, Griffiths can now concentrate on oil exploration and development in Chad, Guidry said. ($1=$1.01 Canadian)
(Reporting by Jeffrey Jones)
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