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At Singapore’s Keppel Corp, did the C-suite approve big bribes?

A former Keppel Corporation agent has reportedly accused the company’s executives of authorizing him to pay bribes to Brazil officials in an effort to win Petrobras contracts. 

Keppel is the world’s biggest builder of offshore oil and gas rigs. The Singapore government owns about 20 percent of the company.

According to court documents seen by Bloomberg, Zwi Skornicki, a former third-party representative who worked for Keppel in Brazil, has alleged that five top executives authorized bribe payments to public officials.

The payments were intended to help Keppel win contracts worth more than $1 bilion from Brazil’s state-owned energy giant, Petrobras, Skornicki told a Brazil judge.

Skornicki alleged that Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd. CEO Chow Yew Yuen was among the executives who authorized the bribes. 

Singapore-based Keppel Corporation said last week that it “strongly denies the allegations” and no executives, including Chow, have ever authorized “any payments as bribes.” 

The accusations were made in July before judge Sergio Moro. He’s leading a years-long probe into alleged bribery tied to Petrobras contracts, Bloomberg said. 

The probe, known as Operation Car Wash, has landed several former Petrobras executives in jail.

Former Petrobras CEO Maria das Graças Silva Foster resigned last year. 

Keppel Corporation said in February it put its relationship with Skornicki on hold “pending determination by the relevant authorities” into allegations that he made illegal payments tied to contracts with Petrobras or Sete Brasil. 

Sete Brasil is a state-owned rig firm that was set up to provide equipment to Petrobras.

Brazilian authorities have alleged that Skornicki bribed João Santana, a top political campaigner and former treasurer of the ruling Workers’ Party, in 2013 and 2014. 

Skornicki was arrested in Brazil in February. The arrest followed allegations by former Petrobras director Pedro Barusco  that several shipbuilding companies, including Keppel FELS, paid brides to win contracts with Sete Brasil. 

News of Skornicki’s arrest came weeks after Keppel took a $160 million writedown in the fourth quarter of 2015 after failing to receive payments from Sete Brasil for over a year. 

Keppel said it received about $1.3 billion from Sete Brasil for six new rigs before milestone payments stopped. 

Keppel stopped  work on all of the projects as of the end of 2015 and said it is waiting for “further clarity on the situation.”

Its full statement released through the Singapore Stock Exchange said:

Keppel refers to the Bloomberg article dated August 3, 2016 reporting allegations made by Mr. Zwi Skornicki in criminal proceedings brought against him in Brazil. Keppel strongly denies the allegations reportedly made that Keppel executives authorized Mr. Skornicki to pay bribes on its behalf. None of the individuals named in the article, including the current CEO of Keppel Offshore and Marine Mr. Chow Yew Yuen, have ever authorized Mr. Skornicki to make any payments as bribes.

From the Petro Global News Wire Service © 2016 All Rights Reserved

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