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Former Sembcorp Marine CEO charged for bribery in Brazil

Felicia Tan
Felicia Tan • 2 min read
Former Sembcorp Marine CEO charged for bribery in Brazil
Wong Weng Sun, seen in a file photo / Photo: The Edge Singapore
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Two former Sembcorp Marine employees were charged on Thursday for bribing officials in Brazil with the alleged offences taking place between 2009 and 2014, with a total of US$44 million paid.

According to the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) and Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), the first accused is Wong Weng Sun, 62, who was the president, executive director and CEO of Sembcorp Marine, and managing director of its wholly owned subsidiary Jurong Shipyard (JSPL) at the time of the alleged offences.

The other accused, Lee Fook Kang, 75, was JSPL's senior general manager.

Sembcorp Marine has since merged with Keppel's offshore and marine unit to form Seatrium.

Wong and Lee each face five charges of corruptly giving gratification to one Guilherme Esteves de Jesus (GDJ), described as a middleman in Brazil, as inducements or rewards to advance the business interests of Sembcorp Marine.

According to the authorities, Wong has also been charged with allegedly instructing two employees back in 2014 to remove an email sent by GDJ containing evidence of bribes he had given or would be giving to other persons. 

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"This constitutes an obstruction of justice, punishable under Section 204A of the Penal Code," reads the joint CPIB-AGC statement.

"AGC considered all the relevant factors in this case, including the available evidence, and assessed that there was sufficient evidence to mount a prosecution," the statement adds.

In addition, Seatrium, as the new entity, will be paying US$57 million to Singapore authorities under a deferred prosecution agreement to settle the case. Finalised details will be announced.

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In contrast, back in 2017, Keppel Offshore & Marine, similarly entangled in Brazil, had reached a deferred prosecution agreement with US, Brazilian and local authorities, to pay US$422 million in global penalties to resolve the bribery case.

For years, both Sembcorp Marine and Keppel Offshore & Marine were winning orders worth billions of orders in Brazil to help the country's state-owned oil company Petrobras build oil rigs.

According to AGC and CPIB, which did not bring charges to Keppel Offshore & Marine nor its executives, there were "evidentiary difficulties". 

Shares in Seatrium closed at 7.9 cents on March 27 before its trading halt on the morning of March 28.

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