Cobalt Says No Laws Broken After Report on Angolan Partner
Cobalt International Energy Inc. (CIE), the offshore oil explorer backed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said it hasn’t broken any laws after the Financial Times reported Angolan officials own stakes in its local partner.
Cobalt began an investigation into its Angolan business relationships in 2007 and continues to maintain “rigorous due diligence” in its worldwide operations, according to a statement today.
Two Angolan officials confirmed concealed stakes in Nazaki Oil & Gas SA, a partner in Houston-based Cobalt’s offshore Angolan operations, the Financial Times reported yesterday. Stakes held by Angolan General Manuel Helder Vieira Dias Jr. and Manuel Vicente, the former chairman of Angolan national oil company Sonangol, may raise questions about compliance with U.S. anti-bribery law, the newspaper said.
Nazaki has repeatedly denied in writing “allegations of a connection” with “senior Angolan officials,” that surfaced in 2010, Cobalt said in its annual report filed with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission Feb. 21.
The SEC began an informal inquiry in March 2011 and a formal inquiry in November. Cobalt said it has complied with all information requests from the SEC, as well as with a related U.S. Justice Department investigation, according to the company’s February filing.
Lynne Hackedorn, a Cobalt spokeswoman, declined further comment in an e-mail response today.
Cobalt fell 7.2 percent to $26.35 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 70 percent this year.
Goldman Sachs held 16.05 percent of Cobalt as of Feb. 29, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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