Oil and gas industry chief Bernard Duroc-Danner is no longer in his job after an accounting scandal at the services giant he led as chief executive and chairman.
Announcing his sudden exit, Weatherford International said it was “extremely grateful” for Mr Duroc-Danner’s “leadership, vision, loyalty and guidance” during a 30-year career with the company and its predecessors.
It comes less than two months after Weatherford, which has its corporate headquarters in Switzerland, with Europe and Caspian business run from Aberdeen, agreed to pay £112million to settle charges it inflated earnings by using deceptive income tax accounting.
Mr Duroc-Danner came under intense pressure to step down, with a leading US newspaper claiming he had “failed his employees, his company and its investors”.
Weatherford vice-chairman Robert Rayne steps up to the chairman’s role and chief financial officer Krishna Shivram is temporarily taking on additional CEO duties.
The company said a new CFO would be named “in the coming days”, leaving Mr Shivram to focus on the leadership role.
Mr Rayne said: “We look forward to moving ahead to build upon the successes of the company that Dr Duroc-Danner has built and grown, and are infinitely thankful for his service.
“We have full confidence that Mr Shivram is the right person to lead the company in this very challenging market and he has our full support.”
Weatherford is one of the world’s largest multinational oilfield service companies, notching up £7.5billion in revenue last year.
It employs about 31,000 people and operates from about 1,000 locations, including manufacturing, service, research and development, and training facilities, in more than 100 countries.
The group’s recent settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) came after it restated its financial statements three times during 2011 and 2012.
SEC revealed Weatherford had fraudulently lowered the year-end sum set aside for income taxes each year by £80-£123.5million to “better align its earnings results with its earlier-announced projections and analysts’ expectations”.
Accountants were reportedly under pressure to show the alleged benefits of shifting the company’s tax domicile from the US to Bermuda, then Switzerland and eventually Ireland in search of a better rate.
Two former Weatherford senior accounting executives also agreed to settle charges that they inflated the company’s earnings by more than £720million over the same period.
The case is the latest in an ongoing SEC crackdown on fraud involving financial reporting and disclosures by publicly traded companies.
In 2013, Weatherford agreed to pay more than £200million to the US Department of Justice and the Department of Treasury and SEC, among others, to settle charges that it authorised bribes and other kickbacks to foreign officials to win business overseas.