The US government has slapped oil services giant Schlumberger with a $232.7 million fine for “violating” its sanctions on Iran and Sudan.
The US Justice Department says the company had admitted “knowingly and willfully conspiring to violate” unilateral American sanctions.
The French-US services company is charged with secretly providing services to Iran and Sudan.
While Schlumberger Oilfield Holdings was allowed to work in both countries, the government says the fine involved the company’s US Drilling and Measurements unit which was not.
Schlumberger is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.
"Over a period of years, Schlumberger Oilfield Holdings Ltd. conducted business with Iran and Sudan from the United States and took steps to disguise those business dealings,” John Carlin, US assistant attorney general for national security, was quoted as saying.
US companies have coveted Iran’s lucrative energy sector with utmost attention despite unilateral American sanctions which are in place since the Islamic Revolution.
They see the punishments a case of lost opportunities where European and Asian rivals have used the absence to their advantage.
According to the Economist, citing unnamed foreign businessmen, American enterprises are using local middlemen to seal initial deals in Iran.
“If there is a nuclear deal (with Iran), you will find overnight that the Americans have signed one-year options on the best projects,” the weekly newspaper recently quoted one middleman as saying.
“The Europeans will be queuing up, but they will end up negotiating with ExxonMobil and Chevron, just as happened in Libya,” he said.
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