Former Keppel lawyer spills the beans during the Keppel O&M Ltd bribery probe

Squealers are bad for criminal conspiracies.

Sulaiman Daud | December 28, 2017, 12:24 PM

The Keppel Offshore and Marine Limited (KOM) bribery probe got a big helping hand from an ex-Keppel lawyer who cracked and cut a deal.

Unsealed court documents relating to the probe revealed his name as Jeffery Chow, 59, a former senior member of KOM's legal department.

Chow is a US citizen who has a residence in Singapore, and has worked for Keppel for over 25 years.

In Aug. 29, Chow pleaded guilty of conspiring to violate the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The transcripts of his plea hearing seen by Reuters make for entertaining reading:

"I am deeply sorry for my conduct...I should have refused to draft the contract that we used for paying bribes and I should have resigned from Keppel."

Chow is scheduled to be sentenced on May 2, 2018.

Coming clean

Chow admitted that he drafted contracts with a Keppel agent in Brazil, who was deliberately overpaid by millions of dollars so that agent could allegedly bribe Brazilian officials.

On Dec. 22, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in a press release that KOM and its wholly-owned US subsidiary, Keppel Offshore & Marine USA Inc. (KOM USA), have agreed to pay a fine of more than US$422 million.

The fine was imposed for a "decade-long scheme" to pay millions of dollars in bribes to Brazilian officials.


Crime and punishment

A joint press release by our own CPIB and AGC on Dec. 23 clarified that KOM bribed officials of the Brazilian state-run oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras) and other parties, in order to secure contracts.

The statement also said that KOM received a conditional warning and the huge fine in lieu of prosecution, as part of a global resolution worked out by the DOJ.

However, investigations into the individuals involved are still ongoing.

Who knows if more revelations will emerge soon.

Top image from Pixabay.