Robbins Arroyo LLP: Cobalt International Energy, Inc. (CIE) Misled Shareholders According to a Recently Filed Class Action
Robbins Arroyo LLP announces that a class action complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. The complaint alleges that officers and directors of Cobalt International Energy, Inc. (NYSE: CIE) violated the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Securities Act of 1933 between March 1, 2011 and November 3, 2014, by making materially false and misleading statements about Cobalt’s business prospects. Cobalt, through its subsidiaries, engages in the exploration and production of oil-focused, below-salt exploration prospects, and is focused primarily in off-shore drilling in Angola.
Cobalt Accused of Engaging in Corrupt Business Deals in Angola
According to the complaint, in October 2009, Cobalt announced that it would be developing oil fields in Angola, one of the most corrupt countries in the world, pursuant to a partnership with Sonangol, Angola’s state-run oil company, and two other entities, Nazaki and Alper. The complaint alleges that Cobalt repeatedly emphasized the strength of the partnership and the legitimacy of its Angolan operations, and denied allegations that Nazaki and Alper were secretly owned and controlled by the head of Sonangol, Manuel Vicente, and two other senior Angolan government officials, General Kopelipa and General Dino. If true, these allegations meant that Cobalt used sham partners and may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, which prohibits funneling money to foreign officials in order to secure a business advantage.
On March 1, 2011, Cobalt filed its 2010 Form 10-K with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) claiming ignorance of any “connection between senior Angolan government officials and Nazaki.” The complaint alleges that throughout the class period, Cobalt assured investors that it had conducted an “extensive investigation” and “extensive due diligence” into its Angolan partners and that its activities in Angola complied with all laws. Contrary to Cobalt’s representations, on April 15, 2012, the Financial Times published two reports that Nazaki was owned by Vicente, Kopelipa, and Dino. The U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the SEC launched criminal and civil investigations, respectively, into Cobalt’s relationship with Nazaki and Alper.
Although Cobalt denied the information in the reports, the complaint asserts that it was well-known inside the company that the partnership was funneling profits to senior Angolan officials through the front companies Nazaki and Alper. Cobalt represented to the public that it was obligated to make social payments to the Angolan government as a term of its contractual agreement, which went to fund the Sonangol Research and Technology Center—an institution that did not exist. Cobalt also misrepresented the high oil content of its Angolan wells, which it claimed were “oil-focused” and “high-impact.” Cobalt had actually hit a gaseous hydrocarbon column, but delayed disclosing that information to investors, a practice that was openly talked about at the company, including during an executive meeting. When the market learned of Cobalt’s various misrepresentations, the company’s stock price plummeted, and has not since recovered, currently trading at only $2.36 per share.
Cobalt Shareholders Have Legal Options
Concerned shareholders who would like more information about their rights and potential remedies can contact attorney Darnell R. Donahue at (800) 350-6003, or you can complete the form below and we will contact you directly.
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