Layne Christensen paying $5.1M in bribes accord

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — Layne Christensen Co. has agreed to pay about $5.1 million to settle civil charges of bribing government officials in Africa in exchange for favorable tax treatment, customs clearance and other improper benefits.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the settlement Monday with the water management and construction company for the alleged misconduct from 2005 to 2010. Layne Christensen, based in The Woodlands, Texas, neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing. The company agreed to report to the SEC on its progress toward improving compliance.

Layne reported the violations to the SEC and cooperated with the investigation, and already has started an effort to correct problems, the agency said.

The SEC said Layne received about $3.9 million in improper benefits from the bribes, including some $3.2 million in tax savings.

The SEC said the company paid nearly $800,000 to officials in Mali, Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo to reduce its tax liability; about $23,000 in cash to police, border patrol agents, immigration officials and labor inspectors in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo to move employees and equipment across borders and obtain work permits; and other payments to customs officials in Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Layne is paying a $375,000 penalty and $3,893,472 in restitution plus $858,720 in interest.

A company official didn't immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.