16 March 2021.
Brazil based chemical giant Braskem said in a filing it made last week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it has launched an internal investigation into allegations of “improper payments” related to an ethane supply project in Mexico.
It was Mexico’s news media that published the allegations first. The news included the testimony of the former CEO of Mexican state-owned oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Emilio Lozoya, to the attorney general of Mexico, Braskem said in its filing. Mr. Lozoya has said he accepted bribes from Odebrecht, according to a complaint filed with Mexican prosecutors.
Braskem said it has approved the hiring of a U.S. law firm “with proven experience in similar cases to conduct an independent internal investigation of the allegations.”
Braskem and its biggest shareholder, Odebrecht S.A., both with long history of bribery in the Latin American region, resolved FCPA offences in 2016. As part of the settlement, Braskem pleaded guilty to one-count of criminal charge filed in New York ,charging it with conspiracy to violate the regulations of the FCPA. It was also charged with creating false books and records to conceal the bribes. It paid the DOJ and SEC a total of $159.8 million to resolve the FCPA offences and agreed to retain an independent compliance monitor for three years.
Braskem also reached similar settlements with Brazil’s Ministerio Publico Federal and the Office of the Attorney General in Switzerland.
In 2019, the DOJ indicted Jose Carlos Grubisich, a Brazil citizen and Braskem’s former CEO for creating a slush fund to bribe officials and political parties in Brazil. He is still awaiting judgement.
Last year, Reuters reported that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was thinking of rescinding the contract between Braskem-Idesa and Pemex, calling it “unfair.” Under the terms of the contract, which were agreed upon during the tenure of former President Felipe Calderón, Pemex has had to supply ethane well below current market prices to Ethylene XXI.
Wall Street Journal reported.