Keppel denies it paid bribes for Brazil contracts

Conglomerate Keppel Corp has denied media reports alleging that its senior management endorsed the payment of bribes to win work in Brazil.

The company was responding to a Bloomberg report that Mr Zwi Skornicki, a former third-party commercial representative for Keppel in Brazil, had told a court that Keppel's top managers authorised him to bribe public officials in exchange for contracts for state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro (Petrobras).

Mr Skornicki told a judge that five leading executives, including Keppel Offshore & Marine CEO Chow Yew Yuen, authorised him to bribe public officials in exchange for Petrobras contracts often exceeding a billion dollars.

The other executives who allegedly knew about and authorised the kickbacks were Mr Tong Chong Heong, a former senior executive at Keppel Corp; Mr Tay Kim Hock, a former CEO at Keppel Fels Brasil; Mr Kwok Kai Choong, the CEO at Keppel Fels Brasil; and Mr Choo Chiau Beng, a former Keppel Corp CEO, according to Mr Skornicki's testimony on July 21, which was part of an ongoing corruption investigation.

The testimony was published on a court website, Bloomberg said.

In an exchange filing released last night, Keppel said it "strongly denies the allegations reportedly made that Keppel executives authorised Mr Skornicki to pay bribes on its behalf".

"None of the individuals named in the article, including the current CEO of Keppel Offshore and Marine Mr Chow Yew Yuen, have ever authorised Mr Skornicki to make any payments as bribes."

The graft probe, called Operation Car Wash, involves claims that Petrobras executives took bribes in return for awarding contracts.

Keppel was first cited in the Car Wash case in February 2015.

Mr Skornicki also said he paid bribes to win work with major Keppel client Sete Brasil, which filed for bankruptcy protection in April after being implicated in the probe.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2016, with the headline 'Keppel denies it paid bribes for Brazil contracts'. Print Edition | Subscribe