Keppel, Sembcorp Marine Refute Allegations of Bribe Payments in Brazil

Singapore's two major rig builders refuted allegations that they had paid more than $6 million in bribes to secure contracts in Brazil's energy sector, which is currently embroiled in a massive corruption scandal involving national oil company Petroleo Basileiro S.A. (Petrobras).

Local newspaper The Straits Times said Monday that the website of Brazilian news magazine Veja had alleged in a report that representatives of Keppel FELS Brasil and Jurong Aracruz shipyard paid over $6 million in bribes to Petrobras officials as well as directors of Sete Brasil -- a Petrobras unit that seeks to become the largest charter firm for drilling rigs in Brazil.

Petrobras' former engineering manager Pedro Jose Barusco named Keppel's representative Zwi Skornicki and Jurong Aracruz's representative Guilherme Esteves for their involvement in the bribery, according to The Straits Times, citing the website report.

Keppel FELS Brasil is a unit of Keppel Corp. Ltd.'s Keppel FELS Ltd., while Jurong Aracruz shipyard is owned by Sembcorp Marine Ltd's subsidiary Jurong Shipyard Pte Ltd.

"We refute allegations made in media reports on Keppel FELS’ involvement in the scandal surrounding Petrobras," Keppel said in an announcement Monday.

Keppel noted that Zwi Skornicki is an employee of Eagle do Brasil, Keppel FELS' agent in Brazil.

Keppel FELS, which had conducted due diligence review of Eagle do Brasil and Zwi Skornicki, pointed out that its 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”.

Morevover, Keppel pointed out that Eagle do Brasil’s services are not exclusive to Keppel FELS as it was also an agent to other reputable multinational companies.

Meanwhile, Sembcorp Marine commented on the bribery allegation involving Jurong Aracruz shipyard in a separate release Sunday.

"Sembcorp Marine refers to various media reports relating to statements made by Petrobras' former engineering manager Pedro Jose Barusco and wishes to state that Sembcorp Marine did not make any illegal payment and the Group's policies and contracts prohibit bribery and unethical behaviour."

Petrobras appointed Aldemir Bendine as CEO Friday to replace Maria das Gracas Silva Foster who resigned Wednesday amid a huge corruption probe as the company's fortunes had been undermined by allegations of price-fixing, bribery and political kickback.

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