US told of bribery evidence in Brazil probe

03 June 2015, News Wires – Prosecutors investigating Brazil’s largest corruption scandal have reportedly notified the US Department of Justice (DOJ) of evidence that at least four foreign companies allegedly paid bribes to win Petrobras contracts.

petrobrasThe allegations are against units or affiliates of Samsung Heavy Industries, Skanska, AP Moeller-Maersk and Toyo Engineering, Bloomberg reports, citing Carlos Lima, the senior prosecutor in a nine-member task force.

Companies could face charges in Brazil that would restrict local operations as well as possible sanctions under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, he told the news wire.

“We’ve had a meeting in the US about it. The Americans like to know who are involved,” Lima said. “These companies can be accountable under the FCPA.”

Samsung Heavy Industries told Bloomber it “has not been contacted by any law enforcement authorities regarding this issue”.

Toyo and its Brazilian affiliate “are entirely unrelated to the bribery scandal of Petrobras”, the Japanese firm said.

Maersk said bribes are strictly forbidden for any employee or third party, commissions were paid within industry norms and it found no indication of improper activity. The Copenhagen-based company added that it has not been contacted by authorities.

Skanska told Bloomberg that it has zero tolerance for unethical business practices and is undertaking an internal investigation.

The DOJ declined to comment on its role in the investigation. Petrobras did not reply to requests for comment from Bloomberg.

Petrobras booked a 6.2 billion-real ($2 billion) writedown on 2014 results from a scheme that allegedly involved contractors bribing executives to inflate prices, with politicians receiving kickbacks.

The list delivered to the DOJ may grow with investigators building evidence that alleged bribes to secure Petrobras contracts from international suppliers – either directly or through intermediaries – was not uncommon, Lima said. Without proof, testimonies may be dismissed, he said.

– Bloomberg

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