Federal Court Issues Written Judgment Accepting Guilty Plea of Schlumberger Oilfield Holdings Ltd. for Violating U.S. Sanctions by Facilitating Trade with Iran and Sudan
Company Must Pay $232.7 Million Penalty
The U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia entered a formal judgment yesterday memorializing the sentence requiring Schlumberger Oilfield Holdings Ltd. (SOHL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Schlumberger Ltd, to pay a $232,708,356 penalty to the United States for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by willfully facilitating illegal transactions and engaging in trade with Iran and Sudan.
The judgment was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, Acting U.S. Attorney Vincent H. Cohen Jr. of the District of Columbia and Under Secretary Eric L. Hirschhorn of the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS).
At a hearing on April 30, 2015, the District Judge John D. Bates of the District of Columbia accepted the company’s guilty plea and sentenced the company to the proposed sentence articulated in the plea agreement, which called for the fine and other terms of corporate probation. The court recognized the seriousness of SOHL’s criminal conduct, which posed a threat to our national security. In addition, the court noted that the scope of criminal conduct justified the large monetary penalty imposed. Finally, the court concluded that the terms of probation provided adequate deterrence to SOHL as well as other companies. Yesterday, the court entered the written judgment confirming the sentence imposed on April 30, 2015.
“The court’s judgment represents a milestone in the enforcement of U.S. sanctions laws,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “This case marks the first conviction of a corporate entity for facilitating violations of the International Economic Emergency Powers Act and the highest criminal fine ever imposed in a sanctions prosecution. The Court’s imposition of this serious sentence should serve as a strong deterrent for multinational corporations doing any business in countries subject to U.S. economic sanctions.”
“This guilty plea and sentence hold this company accountable for violating trade laws by doing business with sanctioned countries and undermining the interests of the United States,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Cohen. “We hope that other companies tempted to break our export laws take note of the $232.7 million penalty that will be paid in this case.”
The criminal information and plea agreement were filed on March 25, 2015, in federal court in the District of Columbia, charging SOHL with one count of knowingly and willfully conspiring to violate IEEPA. The plea agreement that the court approved also requires SOHL to submit to a three-year period of corporate probation and agree to continue to cooperate with the government and not commit any additional felony violations of U.S. federal law. SOHL’s monetary penalty includes a $77,569,452 criminal forfeiture and an additional $155,138,904 criminal fine. The criminal fine represents the largest criminal fine in connection with an IEEPA prosecution. In addition to SOHL’s commitments, under the plea agreement SOHL’s parent company, Schlumberger Ltd., has also agreed to the following terms during the three-year term of probation, among others: maintaining its cessation of all operations in Iran and Sudan, reporting on the parent company’s compliance with sanctions, responding to requests to disclose information and materials related to the parent company’s compliance with U.S. sanctions laws when requested by U.S. authorities, and hiring an independent consultant to review the parent company’s internal sanctions policies and procedures and the parent company’s internal audits focused on sanctions compliance.
The court agreed that in addition to SOHL continuing its cooperation with U.S. authorities throughout the three-year period of probation and agreeing not to engage in any felony violation of U.S. federal law, SOHL’s parent company, Schlumberger Ltd., will also hire an independent consultant who will review the parent company’s internal sanctions policies, procedures and company-generated sanctions audit reports.
According to court documents, starting on or about early 2004 and continuing through June 2010, Drilling & Measurements (D&M), a United States-based Schlumberger business segment, provided oilfield services to Schlumberger customers in Iran and Sudan through non-U.S. subsidiaries of SOHL. Although SOHL, as a subsidiary of Schlumberger Ltd., had policies and procedures designed to ensure that D&M did not violate U.S. sanctions, SOHL failed to train its employees adequately to ensure that all U.S. persons, including non-U.S. citizens who resided in the United States while employed at D&M, complied with Schlumberger Ltd.’s sanctions policies and compliance procedures. As a result of D&M’s lack of adherence to U.S. sanctions combined with SOHL’s failure to train properly U.S. persons and to enforce fully its policies and procedures, D&M, through the acts of employees residing in the United States, violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and Sudan by: (1) approving and disguising the company’s capital expenditure requests from Iran and Sudan for the manufacture of new oilfield drilling tools and for the spending of money for certain company purchases; (2) making and implementing business decisions specifically concerning Iran and Sudan; and (3) providing certain technical services and expertise in order to troubleshoot mechanical failures and to sustain expensive drilling tools and related equipment in Iran and Sudan.
The investigation that commenced in 2009 was led by the Justice Department’s National Security Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Columbia and the U.S. Department of Commerce BIS’ Dallas Field Office. Assistant Attorney General Carlin is grateful to Special Agent Troy Shaffer from BIS’ Dallas Field Office for his excellent work. Assistant Attorney General Carlin also acknowledged the work of those who handled the case from the National Security Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including former Trial Attorney Ryan Fayhee and former Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Borchert and Ann H. Petalas.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Casey Arrowood of the National Security Division, Assistant U.S. Attorney Maia L. Miller of the National Security Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Zia Faruqui of the District of Columbia.