2 February 2018
Several former senior executives were arrested by Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in a probe relating to bribery paid to Brazilian officials to secure rig building contracts. The Straits Times reported. In December 2017 Keppel Offshore & Marine (KOM) agreed to pay US$422 million to settle the investigations into the matter by authorities in the United States, Brazil and Singapore.
Singapore’s Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said at the time that investigations regarding the individuals involved were ongoing.
Straits Times also revealed that more than six people were out on bail.
As far back as in 2015, Brazilian media linked a KOM subsidiary, Keppel FELS Ltd, with the ongoing graft investigations code named ‘operation car wash’. In 2014 in a plea bargain, a former Petrobras executive, revealed that KOM paid bribes to secure rig building contracts from Petrbras.
Bloomberg then published court documents in August 2016, naming the five senior KOM executives, including then-chief executive officer (CEO) Chow Yew Yuen, said to have endorsed and authorized bribe payments.
Following the December settlement, Keppel Corp has indicated that it took disciplinary action “including separation and financial penalties” against 17 former or current employees involved in misconduct.
It is unclear why Attorney General’s Chambers and CPIB took so long to investigate the bribery allegation which blemished the squeaky clean image of Singapore. Keppel directors and auditors should have investigated when $55 million is paid as ‘coffee money’.
“The bribes themselves are naturally an area of critical concern. But what is more disturbing is the extremely long period that these have been happening without being detected,” said Lawrence Loh, an associate professor at NUS Business School.