Addax Petroleum Shuts Offices after Swiss Bribery Case
Ejiofor Alike with agency reports
Chinese-owned oil firm, Addax Petroleum, is shutting its offices in Geneva, Houston and Aberdeen, a month after it agreed to pay 31 million Swiss francs ($31.85 million) to settle charges of suspected bribery of Nigerian and other foreign officials.
Addax Petroleum had agreed to pay the fine in Geneva, Switzerland, thus ending a four-month old investigation, which uncovered the illegality in the payments.
Confirming a report in the Tribune de Geneve newspaper, Addax said its parent firm, Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration and Production Corporation (SIPC), would integrate the three offices into a new technical centre in Beijing.
SIPC was streamlining its business model in response to low oil prices, the Addax statement said.
“This rationalisation designed to reduce management duplication, improve efficiency and secure long-term business sustainability will see Addax Petroleum’s Geneva office integrated with SIPC’s headquarters in Beijing, and the Geneva office closed by the end of this year,” Reuters quoted the company as saying.
Addax’s operating companies will start reporting directly to SIPC headquarters from August 9, and Addax will run a consultation process for its 174 affected staff in Geneva to mitigate the impact of the organisation change, it said.
The newspaper said Geneva-based staff were informed of the closure yesterday afternoon.
The company’s website shows that it has more than 1,000 employees, and operations in Nigeria, Gabon and Cameroon, as well as joint ventures with Genel in Iraqi Kurdistan and with Repsol in the British North Sea.
The Geneva’s Prosecutor’s Office investigated Addax Petroleum, which had also confirmed the criminal investigation into allegations concerning its operation in Nigeria.
The investigation had led to the arrest of the company’s Chief Executive Officer of its Geneva Office, Zhang Yi, and the Legal Director, who were also charged for several millions of dollars in payments to an unnamed company and several lawyers in Nigeria.
A four-month investigation found that the payments were not sufficiently documented and doubts remained on their legality, but no criminal intent was established, the prosecutor’s office said.
With that settlement, cases against the CEO and legal director were also closed, a spokesman for the prosecutor said at the time.