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Singapore’s Keppel pays $422 million to resolve Brazil bribery offenses, lawyer pleads guilty

Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd. and its U.S. subsidiary agreed Friday to pay a total penalty of more than $422 million to resolve corruption charges with authorities in the United States, Brazil, and Singapore.

Keppel paid $55 million in bribes to officials in Brazil during a decade-long scheme, the DOJ said.

The company operates shipyards and repairs and upgrades shipping vessels.

The U.S. unit, Keppel Offshore & Marine USA Inc., pleaded guilty (pdf) in connection with the resolution.

Also unsealed Friday was a guilty plea by a former senior member of Keppel Singapore’s legal department.

The Keppel lawyer, who wasn’t named in DOJ releases, pleaded guilty in August to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA. He’s waiting to be sentenced by a federal court in New York.

Keppel also settled with the Ministério Público Federal in Brazil and the Attorney General’s Chambers in Singapore.

In Brazil, Keppel will pay $211 million in criminal penalties.

In Singapore, the company will pay $105 million in penalties.

“The United States will credit the amount the company pays to Brazil and Singapore under their respective agreements,” the DOJ said.

That means the U.S. portion of the criminal penalties will be $105 million. If Keppel pays less than the allocated amounts in Brazil or Singapore, it’s obligated to pay the difference to the United States.

The DOJ charged Keppel in a criminal information (pdf) filed Friday in the Eastern District of New York with conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA. 

Keppel’s U.S. unit pleaded guilty to the same charge.

Keppel entered into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement (pdf) with the DOJ.

“As part of the deferred prosecution agreement, [Keppel] also committed to implement rigorous internal controls and to cooperate fully with the Department’s ongoing investigation,” the DOJ said.

From 2001 until 2014, Keppel bribed officials at Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras. It won 13 contracts with Petrobras and another company.

Keppel hid the bribes by paying “outsized commissions to an intermediary, under the guise of legitimate consulting agreements,” the DOJ said. The intermediary then passed the money to Petrobras officials and to a political party.

In a statement Friday, Keppel said the corrupt payments were made by a former agent, Zwi Skornicki, on several projects in Brazil.

Keppel said the payments “were carried out with the knowledge or approval” of former Keppel executives.

The company said it has “moved quickly to strengthen its regulatory compliance measures” and in 2015 rolled out an enhanced program.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.

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