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Brazil court accepts charges against 2 men formerly linked to Sembmarine unit

A COURT in Brazil has accepted charges filed against two men formerly linked to Sembcorp Marine's (Sembmarine) wholly-owned Brazilian subsidiary, the mainboard-listed firm said on Thursday.

The Federal Justice Court of Curitiba accepted the complaint offered by the Federal Public Ministry in Parana against Guilherme Esteves de Jesus for money laundering, and against Martin Cheah Kok Choon for money laundering and corruption in connection with certain drilling rig construction contracts entered into by subsidiaries of Sembmarine with Sete Brasil in 2012.

The charges are in relation to Operation Car Wash, a major anti-corruption probe in Brazil.

The Public Prosecutor's Office in Brazil filed the charges in February against the men in their personal capacities. No charges were filed against the Sembmarine subsidiary, Estaleiro Jurong Aracruz (EJA).

Cheah is the former EJA president. His employment with Sembmarine was terminated in June 2015.

Meanwhile, Sembmarine subsidiaries had engaged companies connected to de Jesus as consultants for drilling unit construction contracts with Sete Brasil. All these consultancy contracts have since been suspended, and remain suspended indefinitely by the group, Sembmarine said.

Last July, Sembmarine lodged a suspicious transaction report with the Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police Force after revealing that its yard in the south-eastern state of Brazil was raided, and that Cheah was involved in the corruption probe.

In October, it reached a long-awaited settlement with Sete Brasil for seven drillship and rig-building contracts that were frozen after Sete Brasil filed for bankruptcy.

In February this year, the Federal Courts of Curitiba sentenced de Jesus to 19 years and four months in prison, as well as a fine, after convicting him of corruption, money laundering, and participation in a criminal organisation.

His current case before the courts is for further money-laundering charges.

Sembmarine and Sembcorp Industries both called for trading halts on Thursday morning.

Sembmarine shares closed at 85 Singapore cents on Wednesday, up 12.5 cents or 17.2 per cent, while Sembcorp Industries finished trading at S$1.53.

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