On Tuesday President and CEO Eivind Reiten requested attorney Jan Fougner of the Oslo law firm Wiersholm to head an internal investigation of the company's previous Libyan portfolio, which Hydro acquired from Saga Petroleum in 1999 and which was transferred to StatoilHydro ASA on October 1, 2007 as part of the merger. The US law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP is assisting the investigation team.
The investigations so far indicate that Hydro may have had more extensive contact, and made more active use of the consultancy firm in question, than has previously emerged. The investigations, the purpose of which is to throw more light on all aspects of the circumstances surrounding Hydro's engagement in the Libyan petroleum sector, are being conducted in close cooperation with StatoilHydro, as well as Norwegian and relevant international authorities.
Though no final time limit has been set for the conclusion of the review, the purpose is to achieve a swift clarification.
"When, on Friday, I was first briefed about payments that might be in conflict with ethical guidelines, I had two immediate concerns: Firstly, that no stone should be left unturned in order to get to the bottom of the matter. Secondly, I saw that this situation presented difficulties for me in my role as chairman of the board of StatoilHydro. I therefore declared myself disqualified by reason of partiality," states President and CEO Reiten.
"Out of consideration to StatoilHydro, I have after careful consideration decided that it is right for me to stand down from my position as chairman of the board of StatoilHydro."
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