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CEO of BVI oil company pleads guilty to bribery charges

Thursday, February 20, 2014 | 1:15 PM    

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NEW JERSEY, United States (CMC) – The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) says the former chief executive officer of British Virgin Islands (BVI) oil and gas company has pleaded guilty for his role in a scheme to pay bribes to foreign government officials and to defraud the company.

Knut Hammarskjold, 42, of Greenville, South Carolina, the former co-chief executive officer of PetroTiger Ltd, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and to commit wire fraud.

He is scheduled for sentencing on May 16, 2014.  

Gregory Weisman, 42, the former general counsel of PetroTiger, pleaded guilty to the same charges on November 8, 2013.

According to the charges, the defendants allegedly paid bribes to an official in Colombia in exchange for the official’s assistance in securing approval for an oil services contract worth roughly US$39 million.  

To conceal the bribes, the DOJ said the defendants allegedly first attempted to make the payments to a bank account in the name of the foreign official’s wife, for consulting services she did not perform.  

The defendants made the payments directly to the official’s bank account when attempts to transfer the money to his wife’s account failed, the DOJ said.

In addition, court documents allege that the defendants attempted to secure kickback payments at the expense of several of PetroTiger’s board members.

The conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of US$250,000 or twice the value gained or lost.

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