(Reuters) – The start of negotiations for shares in Hygo Energy was suspended on Thursday (24), hours after the chief executive of the liquefied natural gas transportation and infrastructure operator was cited in a corruption investigation in Brazil.
Hygo is chaired by Eduardo Antonello, former executive of offshore oil exploration company Seadrill, accused by the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) of receiving bribes, according to court documents of a new phase of the Lava Jato operation.
Antonello, who now lives in London, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A Hugo – a joint venture between Golar LNG and the US private equity firm Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners -, whose shares would begin trading in New York, does not confirm or deny the cancellation of the initial public offering (IPO) , said the company’s press office by e-mail. Stonepeak did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Golar said the accusations against Antonello “involve previous conduct and in no way imply his work at Hygo”.
“However, with great caution, Hygo initiated a review to seek confirmation that there was no deviation from its culture of compliance with Mr. Antonello for Hygo, ”added the company in a statement.
New York Stock Exchange did not justify cancellation of IPO
Pricing of Hygo’s shares was expected to take place on Thursday, but the New York Stock Exchange said the transaction was suspended, without stating the reasons.
Golar’s shares went down more than 25% to $ 7.25 during the New York Stock Exchange session.
Hygo announced in September plans to raise $ 485 million in an IPO, with an indicative range of $ 18 to $ 21 per share, according to a statement to the market.
Lava Jato investigates three contracts signed in 2011
As part of the new phase of the Lava Jato operation, Brazilian and Dutch police conducted dozens of search warrants on Wednesday. According to the MPF, the new phase involves Seadrill in an investigation into three contracts signed in 2011 between the Malaysian company Sapura Energy Berhad and Petrobras, which total US $ 2.7 billion.
Sapura, a joint venture between Seadrill and Sapura Energy, strongly denies involvement in any form of bribery or corruption in its operations in Brazil and anywhere in the world, the company said in a statement on Thursday.
The investigation is in its early stages and was released by Brazilian prosecutors on Wednesday (23). No one has been charged.
Antonello was working at Seadrill at the time, having been responsible for establishing the company’s Brazilian operations. Court documents show that his phone was tapped by the police, who also monitored his email.
Seadrill confirmed that its subsidiary Seadrill Serviços de Petróleo was the target of a search and seizure warrant served by the Federal Police of Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday. The company said it is cooperating fully with ongoing investigations.
Seadrill’s shares, traded in Oslo, closed down 6.5% on Thursday.
The contracts between Sapura and Petrobras, for the construction and chartering of three PLSV vessels, are still in force, according to the MPF.