SBM Offshore says Rio court orders Petrobras to withhold payments

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – SBM Offshore, the Dutch marine engineering group, said on Thursday a Brazilian court had ordered Petrobras to provisionally withhold some payments to SBM to ensure the Dutch company pays whatever penalties it might receive in a corruption case.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Brazil’s state-run Petrobras oil company is pictured outside its headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, December 17, 2015. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/File Photo

SBM said judges at the federal court in Rio de Janeiro asked Petrobras and SBM to submit further information before deciding a monthly amount to withhold from payments for work SBM does as a contractor for Petrobras.

“The company strongly disagrees with the interim decision, is seeking further clarification and is taking all appropriate measures to defend its interests,” it said.

SBM said it could give no guarantees it would reach a favorable settlement in Brazil.

Petrobras has been at the center of Brazil’s largest ever corruption scandal amid investigations into a political kickback scheme involving contractors.

SBM paid $240 million to Dutch authorities in 2014 to settle Latin American bribery cases, set aside another $280 million in 2016 to settle related issues specifically in Brazil, and took a provision of $238 million last year to settle partly related U.S. claims.

The Brazilian court order comes just two days after SBM won a contract to supply a new production vessel for Exxon Mobil in Guyana. That sparked the biggest gain in its shares in nearly two years.

The company made a 2017 loss of $203 million, with underlying operating earnings of $806 million.

Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri and Jane Merriman

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