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Keppel acts against employees involved in unit's Brazil bribery case

Business Times
29 Dec 2017
Jacqueline Woo

Keppel has taken disciplinary action against the employees involved in its rig-building unit's bribery scandal in Brazil, including the meting out of financial penalties.

The group has also "separated" with all the executives defined as "relevant individuals" in the statement of facts released earlier by the authorities behind the graft probe.

A Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M) spokesman confirmed this on Thursday, although he did not disclose details on the financial penalties, or when the company parted ways with the individuals.

"For legal reasons, Keppel is unable to comment on any individual employee, or the specific penalties imposed against the individuals," he told The Business Times.

Keppel O&M is set to pay US$422 million (S$567 million) in fines under a global resolution in relation to corrupt payments made by a former Keppel agent in Brazil. The settlement involved the authorities in the United States, Brazil and Singapore.

At least six former employees of Keppel O&M have been implicated in the case, including some from the firm's US and Brazil operations, said the US court documents.

The papers stated that Keppel O&M had paid US$55 million in bribes to officials at Brazilian state-owned oil giant Petrobras and the Workers Party of Brazil, the then-governing political party, to win 13 contracts with Petrobras and Sete Brasil.

Keppel O&M earned US$351.8 million through the bribery scheme.

Meanwhile, fresh court documents out on Tuesday US time revealed that a former Keppel O&M lawyer had pleaded guilty and cooperated with the US authorities.

Jeffrey Chow, a former senior member of Keppel O&M's legal department, cut a deal with prosecutors, said a Reuters report, citing documents unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn.

Chow, 59, pleaded guilty on Aug 29 to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and admitted to drafting contracts that were used to make bribe payments, said the court records.

"I am deeply sorry for my conduct," he said during his plea hearing, according to a transcript.

He said he drafted contracts with a Keppel agent in Brazil who he realised was being overpaid by millions of dollars so he could bribe Brazilian officials.

"I should have refused to draft the contract that we used for paying bribes and I should have resigned from Keppel," he said.

Court records state that Chow, a US citizen, has a residence in Singapore and had worked for Keppel for more than 25 years. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 2.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.