Shaun Zinck Dec. 2, 2014, 7:21pm

A class action lawsuit alleges an oil company violated federal law by engaging in bribery with foreign officials.

The St. Lucie County Fire District Firefighters' Pension Trust Fund and Fire and Police Retiree Health Care Fund filed the suit against Cobalt International Energy.

The plaintiffs are seeking class status for those who purchased Cobalt securities between Feb. 21, 2012, and Nov. 4, 2014. The lawsuit alleges Cobalt secured permission to drill in Angolan wells through bribery and partnerships with shell corporations that were partially owned by “high-level Angolan officials.”

The lawsuit alleges the company violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by paying foreign officials through third parties or shell companies. Cobalt denied any wrongdoing when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced in February 2012 that it was investigating the company for potential violations of the FCPA.

Additionally, the company allegedly lied about the amount of oil and natural gas that was in the Angolan wells.

The falsified information artificially inflated the value of the company, the lawsuit said. The company eventually admitted one of the wells in Angola contained more natural gas than originally estimated. Cobalt's stock fell from $22.23 to $17.51 between Friday and Tuesday, the lawsuit said.

The plaintiffs are represented by Gerald Drought, of Martin & Drought P.C.; Gerald Silk, Avi Josefson and Adam Wierzbowski, of the Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP; and Robert Klausner and Bonni Jensen, of Klausner Kaufman Jensen & Levinson.

United States District Court Southern District of Texas case number 4:14-cv-03428.

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