Vantage Drilling denies Petrobras kickback allegations

Vantage CEO Paul Bragg says no evidence of “improper activity” by his company

Vantage Drilling is denying reports its contract for ultra-deep water drilling is behind the arrest of yet another Petrobras executive for his alleged involvement in the kickback scandal that has buffeted Brazil’s biggest company.

Vantage

Jorge Zelada, Petrobras.

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office says in a statement that federal police agents arrested Jorge Zelada early Thursday at his home in Rio de Janeiro.

Zelada was once the director of Petrobras’ international operations. He was arrested on suspicion of corruption, tax evasion and money laundering. He is the fourth former Petrobras director to be arrested in connection with the kickback scheme

Investigators say the scheme saw Brazil’s top construction and engineering companies pay bribes to a handful of Petrobras’s politically appointed executives in return for winning inflated contracts.

Prosecutors allege that Zelada received bribes in relation to two contracts for drillships operated by two foreign companies.

One, the Titanium Explorer, was operated by US company Vantage Drilling, and the other, Ensco-DS5, by Ensco of the UK. Court documents said irregularities included over-billing on the Ensco-DS5, a lack of market research to obtain a better deal for Petrobras in the contracts, performance bonuses above the market rates, and others.

Vantage released a statement Friday challenging the connection between the arrest of Zelada and the company’s contract with Petrobras for the Titanium Explorer.

Vantage

Paul Bragg, CEO of Vantage Drilling.

“Several hundred contracts were signed by this former Director, which in Vantage’s case, was after the parent board of Petrobras had approved the contract,” said Paul Bragg, chairman and CEO.

Vantage says it is “fully performing” under the contract and found no evidence that would substantiate any allegation of improper activity by it in connection with the award of the contract.

“Vantage has always been committed to conducting itself in accordance with the highest standards of business ethics,” said Bragg.

“We do not believe that any inappropriate act was committed by any personnel associated with Vantage.”

Bragg said Vantage is “confident that any suggestion is without merit as it relates to Vantage.”

Vantage is an offshore drilling contractor that owns a fleet of three ultra-deepwater drillships – the Platinum Explorer, the Titanium Explorer and the Tungsten Explorer – as well as an additional ultra-deepwater drillship, the Cobalt Explorer (under construction), and four Baker Marine Pacific Class 375 ultra-premium jackup drilling rigs.

Vantage’s primary business is to contract drilling units, related equipment and work crews primarily on a dayrate basis to drill oil and natural gas wells, the company said. Clients include major, national and large independent oil and natural gas companies.

Posted in: Energy Financial

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