TMT and Vantage co-owned a deep-water drilling ship named the Titanium Explorer and worked together to win a lucrative contract to lease the ship to Petrobras. In November 2008, after Vantage had allegedly been left off a final list of companies in the running for the contract, Hsin Chi Su, former director of Vantage and chief executive of TMT, and Hamylton Padilha, agent working on behalf of Vantage for the Petrobras contract, allegedly agreed to bribe key executives and politicians with USD 31 million sifted through a series of shell companies and bank accounts in Switzerland, Panama and Monaco. Mr. Su and Mr. Padilha allegedly paid such bribes to Jorge Zeleda, other ex-Petrobras officials, and Brazil's Democratic Movement party, which was part of President Dilma Rousseff's governing coalition. In January 2009, following the alleged bribe payments, Petrobras' board of directors approved the deal.
In early 2010, Vantage allegedly made improper payments to customs and immigration officials in Asia. Vantage's internal investigation on the matter concluded in 2011 with the company's determination that no disclosures were warranted.
On 6 August 2015, Brazilian prosecutors presented formal charges against Mr. Zelada and five others, including Mr. Su and Mr. Padilha, for corruption, tax evasion and money laundering associated with orchestrating a USD 31 million bribe to seal the Vantage contract with Petrobras.
On 11 August 2015, Mr. Padilha entered into a plea bargain agreement with the Brazilian Public Prosecution Office whereby he agreed to pay fines of USD 20 million to compensate Petrobras for graft. As part of the plea bargain, Mr. Padilha will be sentenced to a maximum eight years in prison, a sentence that may be changed to two to five years' house arrest, in exchange for his cooperation with the authorities in their investigation into the kickback scam involving Petrobras.
4 August 2015 - Vantage disclosed in their SEC Form 10-Q that the company voluntarily contacted the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") to advise them of the recent developments surrounding the Petrobras scandal.
13 May 2016 - In further cooperation with the authorities, Vantage disclosed in their SEC form 10-Q that the company advised both the DOJ and SEC that Vantage engaged outside counsel to investigate allegations of improper payments to customs and immigration officials in Asia in early 2010. Although Vantage's internal investigation had been concluded in 2011 with the company's determination that no disclosures were warranted, they decided to review the matter once again in light of the Petrobras scandal.
August 16, 2017 - Vantage announced that it had received a letter from the DOJ acknowledging Vantage's full cooperation in the DOJ's investigation concerning possible FCPA violations and indicating that the DOJ had closed its investigation without any action. The SEC investigation remains active.
9 May 2018 - According to Vantage Drilling's August 4th 10-Q SEC quarterly filing, it had reached “an agreement in principle,” with the SEC to bring to a close the SEC's FCPA investigation of the company's Brazilian Titanium Explorer drillship deal.
19 November 2018 - Vantage settled with the SEC on its books and records offense related to its contracts with Petrobras, agreeing to disgorge $5 million.
Widespread investigation by Brazilian authorities into the Petrobras scandal led them to spot irregularities in the Titanium Explorer contract.
Vantage made voluntary disclosure to the SEC and DOJ.