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US: WesternGeco Agrees to $19.6 Million Fraud Fine

by Lynn J. CookThe Houston Chronicle
June 16th, 2006

A Houston-based subsidiary of Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield services company, has agreed to pay $19.6 million in penalties for "knowingly submitting fraudulent visa applications" for foreign workers assigned to vessels operating in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a statement from the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

The announcement said the Justice department uncovered 421 instances of visa fraud perpetrated by WesternGeco, a seismic imaging company, between January 2000 and the end of 2004.

The company filed fraudulent applications for U.S. visas and made false statements to U.S. consular officers regarding the nature and destination of many of its foreign workers, according to a written statement from the Justice Dept.

WesternGeco began to correct those illegal practices in 2005, the statement says.

The U.S. Attorney's Office stated it has agreed to defer criminal prosecution of WesternGeco for a year provided the company continues to operate within the bounds of the laws governing foreign workers and cooperate with the Southern District of Texas' investigation.

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