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Keppel, Sembcorp Marine refute bribery allegations

Companies separately deny paying bribes to Brazil's scandal-plagued oil giant Petrobras

Keppel Corporation and Sembcorp Marine have separately refuted claims of bribery in Brazil involving scandal-plagued oil giant Petrobras.


KEPPEL Corporation and Sembcorp Marine have separately refuted claims of bribery in Brazil involving scandal-plagued oil giant Petrobras.

Last week, the Brazilian media reported claims that Keppel FELS and a firm referred to as "Jurong" had paid bribes to Petrobras directors and PT, which stands for Partido dos Trabalhadores, and is also known as Brazil's Workers' Party.

When contacted yesterday, Keppel said: "We refute allegations made in the media reports on Keppel FELS' involvement in the scandal surrounding Petrobras." Keppel FELS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Keppel Offshore & Marine.

"We would like to emphasise that Keppel Group has a code of conduct which prohibits, among others, bribery and corruption. Our employees are required to conduct themselves with integrity, in an ethical and proper manner, and in compliance with the applicable laws and regulations of the countries in which we operate, including anti-bribery laws," the conglomerate added.

Sembcorp Marine, whose shipyard in Brazil - Estaleiro Jurong Aracruz - had also been mentioned in the media reports, said: "Sembcorp Marine did not make any illegal payments and the group's policies and contracts prohibit bribery and unethical behaviour."

The bribery claims come from statements made by Pedro Barusco, a former executive at Petrobras's engineering and services division.

These statements have emerged as part of the latest development in Operation "Lava Jato" or Operation Car Wash - the investigation that the Brazilian authorities have been carrying out on money-laundering and corruption schemes involving the state-run oil company.

Last week, the CEO of Petrobras and five of the company's senior executives were forced to resign, as it emerged that the group had lost up to US$33 billion in 2014 because of corruption and inefficiency.

In its response to a query by The Business Times, Keppel noted that Zwi Skornicki - an individual mentioned in reports as representing Keppel in discussions about the alleged payments - is an employee of Eagle do Brasil, which is the agent of Keppel FELS in Brazil.

"Keppel FELS had conducted due diligence review of Eagle do Brasil and Zwi Skornicki. Further, the agency agreement with Eagle do Brasil categorically states that Eagle do Brasil and Zwi Skornicki "shall not make, either directly or indirectly, any improper payment of money or anything of value to an Official in connection with the contract,'" Keppel said.

"In addition, Eagle do Brasil's services are not exclusive to Keppel FELS, and it is also an agent to other reputable multinational companies."

Keppel also clarified that it makes "various contributions in Brazil, which include social welfare programmes, community activities and political donations".

"All of our various contributions are made according to and within local laws and regulations, which are documented in the respective companies' records and audits," it said.