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Abbot Group Pays $8.9 Million After Finding Corrupt Payments

Abbot Group Ltd., a Scottish oil-services company owned by private-equity investors, will pay 5.6 million pounds ($8.9 million) in a civil settlement after discovering it had benefited from corrupt payments.

The Aberdeen-based drilling company will repay profit from a contract entered into in 2006 between an overseas unit and an unidentified oil and gas company, the Crown Office, Scotland’s prosecution service, said today in an e-mailed statement.

The payments came to light last year after inquiries by a tax authority outside the U.K., the Crown Office said. Abbot hired lawyers and accountants to investigate, and reported the results in July, the Crown Office said.

“We are deeply disappointed this improper payment took place,” said Louise Andrew, general counsel for Abbot. “We believe in conducting business legally and ethically and do not tolerate bribery in any form. None of the personnel who were involved in those payments remain with the group.”

After the payments were uncovered in a routine tax audit, Abbot appointed independent lawyers and accountants to review more than 100 contracts over a 12-year period and more than 1 million e-mails, Andrew said today in a statement. The corrupt payment was the only contract that was reported, Andrew said.

Abbot, now trading under the name KCA Deutag, is currently 90 percent owned by a group of four investors; Pamplona Capital Management LLP, BlackRock Inc., GoldenTree Asset Management LP, and EIG Global Energy Partners LLC, Andrew said by phone.

Abbot is the first Scottish company to enter into a civil settlement under a self-reporting initiative introduced in 2011, the Crown Office said. Further details of the payments weren’t disclosed because of any possible criminal investigations of others that may follow, the prosecutor said.

The money will be invested to expand the Scottish government’s 46 million-pound community program, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said in the Crown Office statement.

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