U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 19832 / September 14, 2006
Accounting and Auditing Enforcement Release No. 2479 / September 14, 2006
SEC v. Jim Bob Brown, Civil Action No. 06-CV-2919, U.S.D.C./Southern District of Texas (Houston Division)
SEC Charges Former Employee of A Willbros Group, Inc. Subsidiary With FCPA Violations
Today, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (Commission or SEC) filed a civil action against Jim Bob "J.B." Brown, a former employee of a subsidiary of Willbros Group, Inc., alleging that Brown violated and aided and abetted violations of the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the prohibitions against circumventing internal controls and falsifying records, and the books and records and internal controls provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act). Willbros Group is a global provider of construction and engineering services in the oil and gas industry. It has a class of securities that is registered under Section 12(b) of the Exchange Act and that trades on the New York Stock Exchange. Brown has agreed to settle the charges against him, without admitting or denying the allegations in the Commission's complaint.
The Commission alleges in its complaint that Brown, a former supervisory employee in Willbros's Nigerian and Latin American operations, participated in three separate schemes to bribe foreign officials. First, the complaint alleges that, in February and March 2005, Brown procured $1 million on behalf of a Willbros affiliate and delivered that money as partial payment of previously-made commitments to Nigerian government officials and to employees of the operator of a joint venture majority owned by an arm of the Nigerian government. He also assisted, according to the complaint, in the payment of an additional $550,000 that was also used to satisfy the earlier commitments. Second, Brown, in return for the granting to Willbros of a $3 million contract, knowingly assisted a scheme to pay a $300,000 bribe to officials of an oil and gas company owned by the government of Ecuador and its subsidiary. Finally, Brown knowingly assisted a long-running scheme in which employees of Willbros affiliates used fabricated invoices to procure cash from the company's administrative headquarters in Houston that was used to, among other things, bribe Nigerian tax and court officials.
The Commission alleges that, through these activities, Brown violated Sections 13(b)(5) and 30A of the Exchange Act and Rule 13b2-1 thereunder. In addition, the complaint alleges that Brown aided and abetted violations of Sections 13(b)(2)(A), 13(b)(2)(B) and 30A of the Exchange Act. Without admitting or denying the allegations in the complaint, Brown consented to the entry of a judgment that permanently enjoins him from future violations of these provisions. Pursuant to the judgment, the Court will determine, at a later date upon motion by the Commission, whether to order Brown to pay a civil penalty and the amount of such penalty.
The Commission's investigation into the events underlying these violations is ongoing. The Commission acknowledges the assistance of the Department of Justice in the Commission's investigation.