Business

Keppel takes disciplinary action against workers involved in scandal

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

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

A Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M) spokesman confirmed this yesterday, although he did not disclose more on the financial penalties or when the company separated from the individuals, citing legal reasons.

Keppel O&M is set to pay US$422 million (S$564 million) in fines as part of a global resolution in relation to corrupt payments made by a former Keppel agent in Brazil.

The settlement involved authorities in the United States, Brazil and Singapore.

At least six former employees of Keppel O&M have been implicated, including some from the company's US and Brazil operations, according to US court documents.

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

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

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

Jeffrey Chow, a former senior member of Keppel O&M's legal department, cut a deal to help prosecutors in their probe of Keppel and other former executives, said a Reuters report.

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, according to 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 worked for Keppel for more than 25 years. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 2.

BUSINESS & FINANCE