KiniBiz picked up on the story on SBM Offshore and MISC (most likely after having read the story on this blog, although no source was mentioned) in their article:
"MISC named in global O&G bribery scandal"
KiniBiz asked for comments from MISC, which they could not give on time for that article.
However, today MISC has answered, in KiniBiz's article:
"Petronas’ MISC denies knowledge of bribery"
"At this point in time, we do not have any further information on the matter other than allegations that were made in Wikipedia and media releases made by SBM Offshore pertaining to the matter on Feb 7 and 10, 2014,” said the Petronas subsidiary in response to KiniBiz queries.
We have to wait for further information from SBM Offshore's side. Things have been going pretty slow there, the first allegations about possible bribery where reported in 2012.
"It later disclosed it might have violated anti-corruption laws and could be subject to criminal investigation for alleged payments of bribes to officials in African countries. SBM Offshore has also said the investigation centres around potentially improper sales practices in two countries in Africa, and in one other country outside Africa, but said it was not possible to give more information or an estimate of the potential outcome."
This is the kind of language normally used when it looks like bribery did indeed happen. But what changed since last Friday is that the scale might be (much) bigger than initially feared, and that (some of) the management were aware of the bribery.
The COO was dismissed in 2013, in a rather "mysterious" announcement not mentioning the reason, but declaring that it was "not related to the operational performance of the projects in hand". The internet allegations did mention many times a person with the initials "JPL", which are the same as those of the COO.
Analysts now count on a possible very large fine for SBM Offshore, in the tune of RM 1 Billion to RM 2 Billion. Those amounts are peanuts for companies like JP Morgan, but not for SBM Offshore, who might want to use a rights issue to strengthen their balance sheet. Not sure though if the shareholders are too happy to draw their chequebook to pay for fines.