(Adds comment from representative for Antontello)
RIO DE JANEIRO/LONDON, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Debut trading in
Hygo Energy Transition Ltd was suspended on Thursday
hours after the liquefied natural gas transport and
infrastructure operator's chief executive was named in a
corruption investigation in Brazil.
Hygo is headed by Eduardo Antonello, a former executive of
offshore oil rig company Seadrill Ltd who Brazilian
federal prosecutors accused of bribery in court filings
outlining a new phase of the massive Car Wash graft probe.
A representative for Antonello, who is now based in London,
said the search warrants were executed on the basis of "false"
plea bargain testimony. The representative criticized Brazilian
authorities for allegedly impugning the professional reputations
of people being investigated before all the facts were known.
Hygo, a joint venture between Golar LNG Limited and U.S.
private equity firm Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners whose
shares had been due to be floated in New York, did not confirm
or deny an IPO cancellation, its press office said by e-mail.
Stonepeak did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Golar said the allegations against Antonello "involve
conduct that predates and does not, in any way, implicate his
work at Hygo."
"However, in an abundance of caution, Hygo has initiated a
review to seek to confirm that there have not been any
deviations from its culture of compliance in connection with Mr.
Antonello's service to Hygo," the company said in a statement.
Pricing of Hygo's shares was due to take place on Thursday,
but the New York Stock Exchange said they had been suspended
without providing a reason.
Shares in Golar were down more than 25% in trading in New
York on Thursday.
Hygo announced in September its plan to raise $485 million
in an initial public offering, with shares ranging from $18-$21
apiece, according to a regulatory filing.
As part of the latest phase of the Car Wash probe, a
corruption investigation that in six years has led to the
jailing of two former Brazilian presidents and hundreds of
executives and politicians, Brazilian and Dutch police executed
dozens of search warrants on Wednesday.
According to Brazilian federal prosecutors, the current
phase involves Seadrill as investigators deepen ongoing probes
into three contracts worth $2.7 billion that were signed in 2011
by Malaysia's Sapura Energy Berhad and Brazil's state-controlled
oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA.
Sapura strongly refutes any involvement in any form of
bribery or corruption in its business dealings in Brazil and
anywhere else in the world, the company said on Thursday in a
The investigation is in its early phases and the details
were first disclosed by Brazilian federal prosecutors on
Wednesday. No one has been formally charged.
Antonello worked for Seadrill at the time and was
responsible for establishing the company's Brazilian operations.
Court documents in Brazil show his phone was wiretapped and his
e-mail monitored by the police.
Seadrill confirmed its subsidiary Seadrill Serviços de
Petroleo Ltda was served on Wednesday with a search and seizure
warrant from federal police in Rio de Janeiro. It said it is
cooperating fully with the ongoing investigation.
Seadrill's shares closed 6.5% down on Thursday in Oslo.
The contracts between Sapura and Petroleo Brasileiro, for
the construction and charter of three pipe-laying support
vessels, known as PLSVs, are still in effect today, prosecutors
(Reporting by Sabrina Valle and Gram Slattery in Rio, and
Jonathan Saul in London; Additional reporting by Niket Nishant
and Luciano Costa; Editing by Christian Plumb and Daniel Wallis)