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SFO enters into £103m DPA with Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Limited

2 July, 2021 | Case Updates

Upon determining the issue of approval of the DPA, the Court did not make findings of fact.  No process took place by which the culpability of individual people was determined or assessed.  The Court observed that companies act through individuals, and it was necessary to consider some individual conduct for that reason, but the Court did not hear from any individuals or call upon them for their side of the story.  The judgment in the DPA solely dealt with the culpability of the company Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Limited and not that of any individual person.  No findings of any kind were made against any individual.

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The offences spanned from 1996 to 2014 and took place across the world, in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, India and Brazil.

The offences spanned from 1996 to 2014 and took place across the world, in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, India and Brazil.

The Serious Fraud Office has entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) with Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Limited (AFWEL) relating to the use of corrupt agents in the oil and gas sector. The DPA was approved yesterday, 1 July 2021, by Lord Justice Edis, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Under the terms of the DPA, AFWEL will pay a financial penalty and costs amounting to £103m in the UK, which forms part of the US$177 million global settlement with UK, US and Brazilian authorities.  The amounts to be paid by AFWEL in the UK include payment of the SFO’s costs of £3.4 million and payment of compensation to the people of Nigeria of £210,610. 

In entering into the DPA, AFWEL has taken responsibility for ten offences of corruption relating to the use of corrupt agents in the oil and gas sector by the legacy Foster Wheeler business. The offences spanned from 1996 to 2014 and took place across the world, in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, India and Brazil.

Lisa Osofsky, Director of the Serious Fraud Office, said:

“Over a period of 18 years, Foster Wheeler Energy Limited brazenly and calculatedly paid bribes to officials around the world to cut corners and secure contracts, going to great lengths to conceal its corrupt conduct.

“In doing so, the company subverted the rule of law and harmed the integrity of the economy in the United Kingdom. We will continue to deliver justice for the taxpayer by punishing such actions and forcing companies to change for the better.

“Justice also means recovering money to compensate victims wherever possible, and I am delighted that we have been able to secure compensation for the Nigerian victims in this case.”

The DPA is accompanied by an undertaking by John Wood Group PLC (Wood), AFWEL’s current parent company, in which Wood assumes responsibility for the payment of the financial penalty and the SFO’s costs and agrees to ongoing co-operation with the SFO and other law enforcement and regulatory authorities. Wood will also report annually to the SFO on its Group-wide ethics and compliance programme.

In October 2017, Wood purchased Amec Foster Wheeler PLC, including its subsidiary AFWEL. Wood was not involved in the indicted conduct, and has co-operated fully with the SFO’s investigation.

Lord Justice Edis ruled today that the total sum reflects the gravity of the conduct, the full co-operation of AFWEL and Wood in the SFO’s investigation, and the extensive remediation and compliance programme that has been put in place by Wood and which applies to the legacy Foster Wheeler entities.

This DPA is one of a number of co-ordinated global resolutions relating to the conduct of Foster Wheeler Energy Limited in Brazil, with settlements agreed in the United States by the Department of Justice and the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and in Brazil by the Ministério Público Federal and the Controladoria-Geral da União. The SFO thanks these international partners for their assistance. 

The DPA brings to a close the SFO’s almost four-year investigation into suspected bribery and corruption within the legacy Foster Wheeler and Amec Foster Wheeler businesses as far as the corporate entities are concerned. The investigation into the conduct of individual suspects continues.

The SFO may apply to the Court to resume the prosecution if AFWEL breaches the terms of the three-year DPA. If prosecution resumes, the Statement of Facts as published (in an anonymised form) will be admissible evidence in Court.

The DPA only relates to the criminal liability of AFWEL and does not address whether liability of any sort attaches to any other person, including any employee, agent, former employee or former agent of AFWEL.

Notes to editors:

  1. At the time of the alleged offending, AFWEL was known as Foster Wheeler Energy Limited.
  2. Counsel for the SFO:
    1. Sasha Wass QC
    2. Cameron Brown QC
    3. Kabir Sondhi
  3. Counsel for AFWEL
    1. David Perry QC
    2. Miranda Hill
    3. William Hays
    4. Katherine Hardcastle
      Instructed by Slaughter and May
  1. The DPA documents can be accessed through the links below:
    1. Deferred Prosecution Agreement
    2. Judgment
    3. Penalty schedule
    4. LJ Edis’ reasons for granting preliminary approval on 25 June
    5. Indictment
    6. Undertaking by Wood
  2. The DPA was approved in principle by Lord Justice Edis at a private hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice on 25 June 2021. See the press release here.
  3. Through fines, disgorgement and confiscation, the SFO has contributed around £1.4bn to the Treasury over the past five years. The penalties in this DPA are equivalent to almost twice the SFO’s core annual budget.
  4. This is the SFO’s tenth DPA to date. More information on the other DPAs can be found here.

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