Addax Settles Nigeria Corruption Claims

Geneva-based oil and gas extractor Addax Petroleum has paid CHF31 million ($32 million) to settle a criminal investigation into allegations of corrupt payments in Nigeria. Geneva’s cantonal prosecutor has in return dropped the probe.

The company admitted shortcomings in leadership and has made management changes, but the prosecutor said it could find no evidence of fraud. The investigation had been directed against the company and two executives after suspect payments to a Nigerian company and lawyers, numbering tens of millions of dollars, were uncovered.

Investigators conducted house searches and confiscated documents during the four-month probe into suspected bribery of foreign officials. But while the prosecutor’s office concluded that the payments were not properly documented, it could not link them to criminal acts.

Addax agreed to hand over CHF31 million in financial reparations to end the proceedings. The Geneva prosecutor notedexternal link that the company had tightened up anti-corruption measures.

"Addax Petroleum is committed to conducting its business with the highest level of integrity, and in full compliance with applicable laws, regulations and industry standards," the company said in a statement.

Under article 53 of the penal code, prosecution against a defendant can be stopped if the accused makes reasonable attempts to pay compensation for wrong-doing. This article was also activated in 2015 when HSBC bank paid CHF40 million to end proceedings into suspected money laundering.