SEC Charges Former CEO of Innospec for Role in Bribery Scheme
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C., Jan. 24, 2011 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a former chief executive officer at Innospec, Inc., with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by approving bribes to government officials to obtain and retain business.
The SEC alleges that Paul W. Jennings learned of the company's longstanding practice of paying bribes to win orders for sales of tetraethyl lead (TEL) in mid- to late 2004 while serving as the CFO. After becoming CEO in 2005, Jennings and others in Innospec's management approved bribery payments to officials at the Iraqi Ministry of Oil (MoO) in order to sell the fuel additive to Iraq refineries. Innospec used its third-party agent in Iraq to funnel payments to Iraqi officials.
Jennings agreed to settle the SEC's charges against him. The SEC previously charged Innospec as well as its former TEL business director and its agent in Iraq with FCPA violations.
"This is the third enforcement action against an individual responsible for the widespread bribery that occurred at Innospec," said Cheryl J. Scarboro, Chief of the SEC's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Unit. "We will vigorously hold accountable those individuals who approve such bribery and who sign false SOX certifications and other documents to cover up the wrongdoing."
According to the SEC's complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Jennings played a key role in Innospec's bribery activities in Iraq and Indonesia. Innospec, a manufacturer and distributor of fuel additives and other specialty chemicals, was charged last year for making illicit payments of approximately $6.3 million and promised an additional $2.8 million in illicit payments to Iraqi ministries and government officials as well as Indonesian government officials in exchange for contracts worth approximately $176 million.
The SEC alleges that Innospec made payments totaling more than $1.6 million and promised an additional $884,480 to MoO officials. For example, in an October 2005 e-mail copying Jennings, the agent said that Iraqi officials were demanding a 2 percent kickback and that "[w]e are sharing most of our profits with Iraqi officials. Otherwise, our business will stop and we will lose the market. We have to change our strategy and do more compensation to get the rewards." The kickback and later payments were paid by increasing the agent's commission, which Jennings approved. The SEC's complaint also alleges that Jennings was aware of the scheme to pay an official at the Trade Bank of Iraq in exchange for a favorable exchange rate on letters of credit. Another scheme involved a bribe to ensure the failure of a field test of a competitor product. A confidential MoO report for the field trial test was shared with Jennings. Bribes were offered to secure a 2008 Long Term Purchase Agreement that would have caused approximately $850,000 to be shared with Iraqi officials. The agreement, however, did not go forward due to the investigation and ultimate discovery by U.S. regulators of widespread bribery by Innospec.
According to the SEC's complaint, Innospec also paid bribes to Indonesian government officials from at least 2000 to 2005 in order to win contracts worth more than $48 million from state-owned oil and gas companies in Indonesia. Jennings became aware of and approved payments beginning in mid to late 2004. Various euphemisms to refer to the bribery were commonly used in e-mails and in discussions with Jennings and others at Innospec, including "the Indonesian Way," "the Lead Defense Fund," and "TEL optimization." Bribery discussions were held on a flight in the U.S. and even discussed at Jennings' performance review in 2005. In one bribery scheme with Pertamina, an Indonesian state owned oil and gas company, Innospec agreed, with approval by Jennings, to a "one off payment" of $300,000 to their Indonesian Agent with the understanding that it would be passed on to an Indonesian official.
The SEC's complaint also alleges that from 2004 to February 2009, Jennings signed annual certifications that were provided to auditors where he falsely stated that he had complied with Innospec's Code of Ethics incorporating the Company's FCPA policy. Jennings also signed annual and quarterly personal certifications pursuant to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 in which he made false certifications concerning the company's books and records and internal controls.
Jennings has consented, without admitting or denying the SEC's allegations, to the entry of a final judgment that permanently enjoins him from violating Sections 30A and 13(b)(5) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rules 13a-14, 13b2-1 and 13b2-2 thereunder, and from aiding and abetting Innospec's violations of Exchange Act Sections 30A, 13(b)(2)(A) and13(b)(2)(B). Jennings will disgorge $116,092 plus prejudgment interest of $12,945, and pay a penalty of $100,000 that takes into consideration Jennings's cooperation in this matter.
Tracy L. Price and Denise Hansberry of the SEC Enforcement Division's FCPA Unit conducted the investigation. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice's Fraud Section, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.K.'s SFO in this matter. The SEC's investigation is continuing.
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For more information about this enforcement action, contact:
Cheryl J. Scarboro
Chief, Foreign Corrupt Practices Unit, SEC's Division of Enforcement