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July 10, 2019

Sembcorp Marine files police report following Brazil probe

Sembcorp Marine has filed a suspicious transaction report with the Singapore police following investigations into a subsidiary of the company in Brazil.

By Umar Ali

Singapore-based global marine and offshore engineering group Sembcorp Marine has filed a suspicious transaction report with the Singapore police force following investigations into a subsidiary of the company in Brazil.

Brazilian authorities executed a search warrant on Estaliero Jurong Aracruz (EJA) in July 2019 in connection with ongoing investigations related to the Operation Car Wash corruption case. The search warrant was a part of investigations into former EJA consultant Guilherme Esteves de Jesus, who was arrested by Brazilian federal police and is currently facing ongoing criminal charges.

Sembcorp’s suspicious transaction report was filed in relation to former EJA president Martin Cheah Kok Choon, who was named in the search warrant as being subject to investigations by Brazilian authorities. Choon’s employment with EJA was terminated in June 2015, and Sembcorp stated it was not aware that any of its management or directors were subjects of any current investigations.

Described by the US Department of Justice as “the largest foreign bribery case in history,” the Car Wash corruption scandal saw Brazilian multinational Petrobras accused of bribing Brazilian political parties and politicians, and trying to conceal these payments from investors and regulatory agencies.

Sembcorp Marine was first implicated in the Car Wash scandal in February 2015 when former Petrobras engineering manager Pedro Jose Barusco alleged that de Jesus was connected to illegal payments made to Petrobras, resulting in his arrest in March 2015. De Jesus was charged by Brazilian authorities in April 2017, with his trial commencing in 2018.

Sembcorp Marine stated that companies connected to de Jesus were engaged by Sembcorp subsidiaries as consultants in Brazil, through which these subsidiaries secured a number of drill rig construction contracts.

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The company added that all contracts for consultancy services provided to the company’s subsidiaries connected to de Jesus have been suspended, and that the Sembcorp Group has not had any dealings with de Jesus or companies related to him following this suspension.

In a statement, Sembcorp Marine said: “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.

“The group has a strict compliance program and continuously works to ensure that policies and procedures are in place to prevent any violation of any anti-corruption laws applicable to our operations.

“The company will continue to monitor developments in Brazil and other jurisdictions with respect to the above matters, and will make appropriate announcements in the event of any material developments.”

Sembcorp Marine was approached for comment, but due to the ongoing nature of the investigation was “unable to provide further comments.”

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