Treasury Dept. subpoenas TransOcean about Myanmar operations

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TransOcean Ltd., the offshore drilling company facing numerous investigations about its rig explosion and the ensuing BP oil spill, says the U.S. Treasury Department subpoenaed the company for information about its operations in Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma.

In an August 4 regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, TransOcean said it “recently received an administrative subpoena” from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). That office is responsible for enforcing U.S. economic sanctions and trade restrictions against Myanmar, Cuba and other countries.

“We are cooperating with OFAC and believe that all of our operations fully comply with applicable laws,” TransOcean said in the filing. The company also said it did not expect any material adverse effect on its financial position from the OFAC investigation, which it did not detail.

Spokesmen for OFAC and TransOcean were not immediately available for comment.

A November 2009 regulatory filing by TransOcean showed its Actinia rig was under contract to China’s CNOOC Ltd. for use in Myanmar at a rate of $206,000 per day through May 2010.

U.S. sanctions against Myanmar date back to 1997 and prohibit Americans from investing in the country or helping foreigners invest there.

TransOcean had already self-reported to OFAC a potential violation of the U.S. ban on trade with Iran. A shipment of goods bound for a TransOcean rig in Turkmenistan was shipped through Iran by a freight forwarder, according to the company, which said it hired an outside lawyer to investigate the matter.

The owner of the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon rig leased by BP in the Gulf of Mexico, TransOcean is involved in investigations by the Interior Department, the Coast Guard, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Justice Department, and the Chemical Safety Board. In its SEC filing earlier this month, TransOcean said it was subpoenaed by the Interior Department’s office of inspector general about the April explosion that triggered the massive oil spill.

UPDATE — 8/16/10: A spokeswoman for the Treasury Department's OFAC said that it is the department's policy not to comment on its investigations.

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