Police raids Singapore rig builder’s Brazil office in bribery probe

Brazilian police have raided offices of Estaleiro Jurong Aracruz Ltda (“EJA”), a Brazilian subsidiary of Singapore’s offshore rig builder Sembcorp Marine.

In a Singapore Exchange filing, SembCorp Marine said the search warrant the Brazilian authorities were executing was related to the “Operacao Lava Jato” (Operation Car Wash) in Brazil, which is a years-long investigation into a massive corruption scandal involving the Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras.

SembcorpMarine said: “The company has co-operated fully with the Brazilian Federal Police and provided materials within the scope of the warrant. The Company understands that this search was in relation to investigations against Guilherme Esteves de Jesus, a former consultant engaged by EJA in Brazil.”

“Guilherme Esteves de Jesus has been arrested by the Brazilian Federal Police. He is currently facing ongoing criminal charges which have not been concluded,” SembcorpMarine said.

The current investigations also involve Martin Cheah Kok Choon, the former president of Estaleiro Jurong Aracruz.

“The company wishes to reiterate that the Group is committed to the highest standards of compliance with anti-corruption laws and does not condone and will not tolerate any improper business conduct,” SembcorpMarine said.

This is not the first time Sembcorp Marine has been tied to the Brazilian oil sector bribery scandal, and this is not the first time Guilherme Esteves de Jesus has been mentioned in relation to the alleged corruption.

Namely, Guilherme Esteves de Jesus was arrested back in March 2015 as a person connected to drilling rigs construction contracts between Brazilian drilling contractor Sete Brasil and Sembcorp Marine, after a former Petrobras director accused both of Singapore’s largest rig builders, Sembcorp Marine and Keppel, of paying bribes to get rig contracts in Brazil. The two companies at the time issued statements denying the allegations.

However, Keppel then in 2017 agreed to pay fines totaling $422 million to resolve charges arising out of a decade-long scheme to pay millions of dollars in bribes to officials in Brazil.

According to admissions and court documents, beginning by at least 2001 and continuing until at least 2014, Keppel paid approximately $55 million in bribes to officials at the Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras and to the then-governing political party in Brazil, in order to win 13 contracts with Petrobras and another Brazilian entity.

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