MARUAH issues a stern statement on Keppel corruption case

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The following is a statement from Maruah

We refer to the TODAY article (Keppel O&M corruption case a black eye for Singapore Inc., 27 Dec 2017) and wish to highlight the negative effects of Keppel Offshore & Marine’s (KOM) corrupt practices on human rights and development.

Based on details released by the US Department of Justice, KOM paid US$55 million in bribes to Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras, Sete Brasil and to Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), the then-governing political party in Brazil. But it now has to pay a fine of US$422.2 million, as part of a global resolution with the authorities in United States, Brazil and Singapore, and it has also taken disciplinary action against 17 current and former employees.

Meanwhile, in Brazil, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was recently sentenced to nearly 10 years jail for corruption, as part of a huge ongoing corruption investigation involving companies overcharging Petrobras via cartels, then bribing Petrobras officials who facilitated such contracts, who in turn paid bribes to politicians, who retained those Petrobras officials.

MARUAH is deeply disturbed at the blatant corruption of KOM, disregarding its own history, Singapore’s long-held stance against corruption, Keppel’s own ineptitude as a company to maintain a business and human rights role model practice, as a government-linked multi-national company.

We are also bewildered with the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), on two counts: that the AGC issued only a conditional warning to KOM, on a corruption scandal of this scale, based on fact that KOM is cooperating with US investigations and that its subsidiary company had pleaded guilty to violations; secondly what then entails local prosecution when a Singapore-based or Singapore-owned company bribes in other countries, to gain business opportunities.

It is disappointing that a government-linked company carried out such corrupt practices, violating the core principles of transparency, accountability, and non-discrimination, and contributing part of the damage to the people of Brazil. Human rights are inseparable and interdependent, the consequences of corruption are multi-faceted and impact on all human rights; civil, political, economic, social and cultural, as well as the right to development, as can be seen in Brazil’s poor development status, a result of years of corruption.

We urge our government to approach corruption as a systemic problem rather than a problem of individuals or errant companies. We need to incentivise companies to follow the guidelines of the Corrupt Practices Investigations Bureau, comply with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, encourage more companies to comply with ISO 37001 that specifies requirements and provides guidance for establishing, implementing, maintaining, reviewing and improving anti-bribery management. We also ask that the government enforces key fundamentals of transparency, thorough investigations, high levels of accountability through public reporting mechanisms, a judiciary, and the protection of human rights and their development as a core principle to be anti-corrupt.

Leong Sze Hian
President