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Former Sembcorp Marine CEO charged with corruption over Brazil bribes

Photo: Lee Hong Liang Sembcorp Marine logo
The former CEO of Sembcorp Marine Wong Weng Sun and another senior executive of the Singapore yard group have been charged with paying over $31 million in bribes to win contracts in Brazil.

Following investigations into Seatrium (formerly Sembcorp Marine) started in May 2023 by Singapore’s Corrupt Practices Bureau (CPIB) into alleged bribery payments in Brazil, Wong and Lee Fook Kang, Senior General Manager of subsidiary JSPL, have been each charged with five counts of corruption.

In consultation with the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) Wong and Lee are charged with conspiring to corruptly give gratification to Guilherme Esteves de Jesus as inducement or reward to advance the shipyard group’s business interest in Brazil.

The alleged offences took place between 2009 and 2014 and involved bribes totalling $31.88 million to Guilherme Esteves de Jesus.

Wong also faces a charge of obstruction of justice for allegedly instructing two employees in 2014 to remove an email sent to Guilherme Esteves de Jesus containing evidence of the bribes.

“AGC considered all the relevant factors in this case, including the available evidence, and assessed that there was sufficient evidence to mount a prosecution. This is unlike the Keppel Offshore & Marine Limited case where there were evidentiary difficulties,” a statement by CPIB said.

In a similar case involving Keppel Offshore & Marine, now also part of Seatrium, six former senior management staff were given stern warnings by the CPIB in relation to the bribe payments. The Singapore authorities said they had difficulty in gathering evidence for the case in including key witnesses overseas being unwilling to come to Singapore to testify.

In relation to the offences by Sembcorp Marine, in February this year Seatrium had reached in-principle settlements with the Brazilian Attorney-General’s Office (AGU), Comptroller General of the Union (CGU), and Public Prosecutor’s Office and agreed to a payment of BRL670,699,731.73, which it said were as a result of its cooperation with the Brazilian authorities.

CPIB said the public prosecutor was in consultation with Seatrium over the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA).

“The contents and terms of the DPA remain to be worked out and agreed upon by the Public Prosecutor and the Company. The DPA will also have to be approved by the General Division of the High Court, before it comes into force,” CPIB said.