A former agent and director of the Norwegian companies Sevan Drilling and Sevan Marine has been arrested in Portugal at the request of Brazilian authorities. Raul Schmidt is charged with corruption in connection with a rig contract between a US company and Brazil’s scandal-plagued national oil company Petrobras.
The Sevan companies have been caught up in the scandal at Petrobras, along with several other Norwegian and international oil and offshore firms. Norwegian police have been eager to question Schmidt as part of their own investigation into alleged suspected bribery payments made by Sevan Drilling. His company, based in the British Virgin Islands, allegedly received several hundred million kroner worth of payments from Sevan that Norwegian authorities suspect were passed on to key executives at Petrobras in return for rig contracts.
Prominent Norwegian defense attorney Ellen Holager Andenæs confirmed to newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) that she and lawyers at Oslo law firm DLA Piper were representing Schmidt “in the portion of the case (against him) that has ties to Norway.” She wrote in an email to DN that Schmidt claimed he was not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing.
DN noted that Schmidt was a director of Sevan Marine, which owned Sevan Drilling, until 2005, when he started his own business as an agent. Sevan later received three major rig contracts from Petrobras worth a total of NOK 20 billion, on which Schmidt reportedly received commissions of around NOK 300 million. It’s at least part of that money that police suspect was sent on to Petrobras officials who in turn are suspected of taking bribes.