U.S. Ends Inquiry as Ghana Probes Alleged Bribery at Its Jubilee Oil Field
The U.S. ended a corruption probe into oil-and-gas explorer Kosmos Energy LLC without filing charges after the company was reported by a partner for possible bribery related to the development of Ghana’s offshore Jubilee field, according to a May 12 U.S. Justice Department letter obtained by Bloomberg News.
Ghana is pressing ahead with its own criminal inquiry into alleged corruption in the development of the field, Attorney General Betty Mould-Iddrisu said in an interview this week.
“It’s live, it’s ongoing,” she said. Mould-Iddrisu wouldn’t name the targets of the investigation or specify the allegations.
The U.S. Justice Department closed its inquiry three months before the collapse of Kosmos’s $4 billion deal to sell its 23.5 percent Jubilee stake and other Ghana assets to Exxon Mobil Corp. In an Aug. 19 e-mail, Patrick McGinn, an Exxon spokesman, said Exxon decided to cancel the purchase. He didn’t give a reason.
After Ghana’s government declined to approve Kosmos’s October 2009 agreement with Exxon, state-owned Ghana National Petroleum Corp., a partner in the field, said it wanted to buy the Kosmos stake. Ghana “didn’t do anything to block” the Exxon deal, Edward Bawa, an Energy Ministry spokesman, said in an interview when the deal was canceled.
According to the May 12 letter from the Justice Department to Kosmos, Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which owns a 23.5 percent stake in the Jubilee field, reported Kosmos to U.S. authorities for possible violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The law makes it illegal for U.S. companies to bribe government officials overseas to obtain business.
Anadarko’s allegation was “in connection with securing licensing, exploration and production agreements relating to petroleum blocks located in the territorial waters of the Republic of Ghana,” Charles Duross, an acting supervisor in the Justice Department’s criminal division, wrote in the letter.
“We presently do not intend to take any enforcement action and have closed our inquiry into this matter,” Duross wrote.
Anadarko, based in The Woodlands, Texas, made similar allegations against EO Group, according to a June 2 letter from the Justice Department. In the letter, the U.S. informed EO, which owns a 1.75 stake in Jubilee, that it wasn’t pursuing charges.
Jim McCarthy, a spokesman for Kosmos, a Dallas-based company backed by the Blackstone Group LP and Warburg Pincus LLC, declined to comment on the U.S. or Ghana investigations. James Barnes, an attorney at the Houston firm Barnes & Cascio LLP that represents EO Group, declined to comment.
Other partners in the Jubilee project are London-based Tullow Oil Plc, with a 34.7 percent stake, Ghana National Petroleum, with 13.7 percent, and Sabre Oil & Gas, with 2.8 percent. There are no records of any criminal charges filed in the U.S. against any of the Jubilee partners in connection with the project.
Production at Jubilee is scheduled to begin in this year’s fourth quarter and is expected to produce 120,000 barrels a day next year, according to Ato Ahwoi, chairman of Ghana National Petroleum. Jubilee, discovered in 2007 with potential resources of 1.8 billion barrels, will be the first field to pump oil off Ghana’s coast.
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