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US: Software maker admits to taking bribes

by Stephanie KirchgaessnerFinancial Times
September 25th, 2007

An oil and gas services company owned by a US buy-out firm on Monday admitted it sought to bribe officials connected to several nationally owned oil companies to improve sales of its software, including Kazakhstan’s KazMunaiGas and subsidiaries of China’s CNOOC.

Paradigm BV, a private software maker owned by Fox Paine, a US private equity firm, agreed to pay a $1m penalty and retain outside compliance counsel as part of an agreement with the Department of Justice over improper payments to government officials in China, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Nigeria.

The justice department said Paradigm, which relocated from Israel to Houston, Texas in 2005, voluntarily disclosed the payments after they were discovered in January 2007 during due diligence being conducted in connection with the company’s anticipated initial public offering.

The improper payments were paid between 2002 and 2007, the justice department said. In one case, Paradigm admitted it retained a British West Indies company called Frontera on the suggestion of a KazMunaiGas official during a tender process for geological software.

After winning the $249,290 tender in August 2005, Paradigm received an invoice from Frontera requesting a “commission” for $22,250. Paradigm wired the payment to a Latvian trade bank, although Frontera did not assist in any of the tender documentation.

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