RIO DE JANEIRO / LONDON, Sept. 24 (Reuters) – Trading debuts at Hygo Energy Transition Ltd were suspended on Thursday hours after the chief executive of liquefied natural gas transportation and infrastructure operators was named in a corruption probe in Brazil.
Hygo is led by Eduardo Antonello, a former executive of offshore oil rig firm Seadrill Ltd who has been accused of bribery by Brazilian federal prosecutors in a court filing that outlines a new phase of Car Wash’s massive corruption probe.
Antonello, who is now based in London, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hygo, a joint venture between Golar LNG Limited and US private equity firm Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners whose shares will be divested in New York, did not confirm or deny the cancellation of the IPO, its press office said by email. Stonepeak did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Golar said the allegations against Antonello “involved preceded behavior and did not, in any way, involve his job at Hygo.”
“However, with great care, Hygo has initiated a review to ensure that there is no deviation from a culture of compliance with respect to Mr Antonello’s service to Hygo,” the company said in a statement.
Hygo’s share price was due on Thursday, but the New York Stock Exchange said they had suspended it without giving a reason.
Golar’s stock was down more than 25% at $ 7.25 in New York morning trade.
Hygo announced in September its plans to raise $ 485 million in an initial public offering, with shares ranging from $ 18- $ 21 each, according to regulatory filings.
As part of the final stage of the Car Wash probe, a corruption probe that in six years saw two former Brazilian presidents and hundreds of executives and politicians imprisoned, Brazilian and Dutch police executed dozens of search warrants on Wednesday.
According to Brazilian federal prosecutors, the current stage involves Seadrill as investigators deepened the ongoing investigation into three contracts worth $ 2.7 billion signed in 2011 by Malaysia’s Sapura Energy Berhad and Brazilian state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA.
Sapura strongly denies involvement in any form of bribery or corruption in its business dealings in Brazil and anywhere in the world, the company said on Thursday in a statement.
The investigation is in its early stages and details were first revealed by Brazil’s federal prosecutors on Wednesday. Nothing is officially billed.
Antonello was working for Seadrill at the time and was responsible for establishing the company’s operations in Brazil. Court documents in Brazil show that his phone was tapped and his email was monitored by police.
Seadrill confirmed its subsidiary Seadrill Serviços de Petroleo Ltda was served on Wednesday with a search and seizure warrant from the federal police in Rio de Janeiro. He said it was cooperating fully with the ongoing investigation.
Seadrill shares closed down 6.5% on Thursday in Oslo.
The contract between Sapura and Petroleo Brasileiro, for the construction and leasing of three pipeline support vessels, known as the PLSV, is still in effect today, prosecutors said. (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)