Other Governments to Assist with Singapore Investigation of Keppel O&M Scandal

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The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) is seeking the assistance of other authorities in the investigation into the Keppel Offshore and Marine (Keppel O&M) bribery and corruption scandal, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law Indranee Rajah told Parliament on Monday (Jan 8)

Most of the documents and testimony attesting to this bribery are located over a variety of locations and jurisdictions. Ms Indranee said that the AGC will coordinate with foreign officials to obtain evidence.

The Government will act swiftly and efficiently, she said.

Members of Parliament questioned Ms Indranee concerning the bribery scandal involving Keppel Corp’s rig-building division, a scandal that has reached international levels.

Keppel O&M allegedly paid than more than US$50 million to authorities in Brazil to facilitate business transactions, within a span of 13 years. The company was given a fine of US$422 million (S$567 million). This amount is a result of a global agreement between three countries.

The US Department of Justice released documents on December 23, 2017 which state that Keppel O&M had deliberately schemed to give bribes in exchange for business deals with Sete Brasil and Petrobas, Brazilian oil firms, from 2001 to 2014.

Ms Indranee further announced that the AGC will also request for mutual legal assistance, a formal procedure where one nation requests assistance to procure evidence to further their investigations. She also stated that as investigations are completed, the Public Prosecutor would respond fully to the case.

Individuals involved in the scandal are also under investigation, though their identities will only be disclosed when charges are formally made against them in a court of law.

According to Ms. Indranee, a strong global resolution had been reached by the three countries involved—Singapore, Brazil and the United States – which includes a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) entered into by Keppel O&M with the US Department of Justice. The DPA stipulated that the company must pay half of the criminal penalty to Brazil (US$211.1 million) while Singapore and the US are to get 25 percent each (US$ 105.6 million).

The company will pay Singapore US$52.7 million within three months from the issuance of the conditional warning by Singapore’s Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), and the rest of the amount is to be paid within three years, minus penalties already paid to officials in Brazil.

The company has also entered into a leniency deal with the Federal Public Ministry of Brazil. Keppel O&M has been cooperative with authorities’ investigations in all jurisdictions, and had voluntarily disclosed results from their own internal investigations.

However, Ms Indranee cautioned that should the company fail to pay the fines, they would face consequences from all the countries. She also reiterated that whether or not Keppel O&M is a government-linked company (GLC), as long as investigations are necessary, they would proceed.

When asked about the involvement of the government and government investment firm Temasek Holdings in the oversight of the activities of GLCs overseas, Ms Indranee said that the government has nothing to do with Temasek or the companies it invests in. Neither does Temasek intrude into those companies’ business deals.

As of August 2017, Temasek had a 20.43 percent stake in Keppel.
Ms. Indranee said that Singapore does not accept or tolerate any form of corruption, and that the government expects all firms with overseas operations to hold to standards of integrity and abide by the law.

Netizens were understandably upset at the scandal and called for transparency in the matter.

Others felt that the government should just continue with their investigations

Others were concerned that the Keppel case is just “the tip of the iceberg,” and that the government should be asked about the state of the country’s foreign reserves.