Agent linked to SembMarine's Brazilian units jailed for graft

An agent linked to Sembcorp Marine's (SembMarine's) Brazilian subsidiaries has been found guilty by a court in Brazil of corruption, money laundering and participation in a criminal organisation.

Guilherme Esteves de Jesus was sentenced to 19 years and four months in jail and also fined by the Federal Courts of Curitiba, SembMarine said in a filing with the Singapore Exchange yesterday. It learnt of the sentencing on Thursday.

Companies connected to de Jesus were engaged by SembMarine's subsidiaries as consultants in Brazil for drilling unit construction contracts with Brazilian rig supplier Sete Brasil in 2012.

Among other things, de Jesus made certain payments in connection with contracts entered into by the SembMarine units in Brazil.

SembMarine said de Jesus defended the charges throughout the criminal proceedings against him.

Further charges have been filed against de Jesus for money laundering by Brazilian federal prosecutors and this proceeding is still ongoing, said SembMarine.

Earlier this month, SembMarine said the former president of its wholly-owned Brazilian unit Estaleiro Jurong Aracruz (EJA), Martin Cheah Kok Choon, was charged in Brazil with money laundering and corruption in connection with the drilling rig contracts.

Cheah's employment with the SembMarine group was terminated in June 2015.

The charges in Brazil were filed against the two men in their personal capacities, and not against EJA. SembMarine lodged its own suspicious transaction reports with the Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police Force.

SembMarine reiterated in its filing yesterday that other than Cheah, it was not aware of any employee past or present that was a subject to the ongoing investigations by the Brazilian authorities related to Operation Car Wash.

That probe into money laundering in Brazil, first discovered at a car wash in Brasilia in 2014, uncovered illegal payments of more than US$5 billion (S$7 billion) to company executives and political parties.

It showed that executives at state oil firm Petrobras, for which Sete Brazil was a rig supplier, had accepted bribes from construction firms in return for awarding them contracts at inflated prices.

Last October, SembMarine reached a long-awaited settlement with Sete Brasil for seven drillship contracts worth billions of dollars that were frozen after the Brazilian company was forced to file for bankruptcy amid the sweeping corruption probe.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2020, with the headline 'Agent linked to SembMarine's Brazilian units jailed for graft'. Print Edition | Subscribe