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Singapore rig builder calls Brazil payments ‘suspicious’

Keppel Corporation said certain payments made by an agent in connection with Petrobras contracts may have been “suspicious.” 

Keppel said it notified authorities in the relevant jurisdictions of its intention to cooperate and work toward the “resolution of the underlying issues arising from or in connection with the transactions.”

In a filing with the Singapore Stock Exchange Monday, the company said internal investigations into payments by its Brazil agent, Zwi Skornicki, showed that “certain transactions” associated with Skornicki “may be suspicious.” 

Keppel builds giant rigs used to drill for and produce offshore oil and gas. Brazil’s state-owned Petrobras and affilates have been among Keppel’s biggest customers.

Brazilian authorities arrested Skornicki in February for allegedly paying bribes to João Santana, a top political campaigner and former treasurer of the ruling Workers’ Party, in 2013 and 2014. 

In February, Keppel said it put its relationship with Skornicki on hold “pending determination by the relevant authorities” into allegations that Skornicki made illegal payments. 

Keppel Corporation said last year it was investigating alleged illegal payments in connection with contracts entered into between certain Keppel entities with Petrobras and Sete Brasil. 

Keppel said  Monday the matter continues to be under review. The company also reiterated its zero-tolerance stance against any form of illegal activity, including bribery and corruption, involving its employees or associates. 

Singapore-based Keppel has denied any wrongdoing. 

In August, Keppel said it “strongly denies…allegations” made by Skornicki that Keppel executives had approved the illegal payments. Keppel added in August that no executives, including Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd. CEO Chow Yew Yuen, have ever authorized “any payments as bribes.” 

Keppel took a $160 million fourth quarter writedown due to missing payments from Sete Brasil, a state-owned rig builder established to provide vessels to Petrobras. 

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

The company slowed construction work on the Sete rigs after it stopped receiving payments over a year ago. 

Keppel said it stopped  work on all of Sete Brasil projects as of the end of 2015 as it awaits “further clarity on the situation.” 

In the company’s half-year results, Keppel Corporation CEO Loh Chin Hua said the contracts with Sete Brasil remain legally valid and that Keppel will “continue to work with Sete towards achieving a win-win outcome.”


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

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