Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Former Braskem CEO to plead guilty to bribery involving Odebrecht

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The former chief executive officer of Braskem SA, Brazil’s largest petrochemicals company, will plead guilty to federal charges tied to a $250 million bribery plot the U.S. said also involved Braskem’s parent company, Odebrecht SA.

Jose Carlos Grubisich, who prosecutors said pocketed $2.6 million for himself, is scheduled to enter the plea on April 15, according to a court filing. Grubisich was charged with conspiracy in a three-count indictment filed in 2019.

Braskem and Odebrecht, a global construction conglomerate also based in Brazil, pleaded guilty in 2016 to conspiracy to violate anti-bribery provisions of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and agreed to pay $3.5 billion to resolve a massive bribery case brought by the U.S., Brazil and Switzerland.

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Grubisich helped divert about $250 million from Braskem to a hidden business unit, called the Division of Structured Operations, that Odebrecht used as a “stand alone bribe department,” according to prosecutors. The unit was used to funnel payments to corrupt government officials to obtain and retain business, they said.

Grubisich’s lawyer, Edward Kim, declined to comment on the case or on what charges his client would plead guilty to.

Grubisich and his conspirators agreed to pay millions of dollars to, or for the benefit of, government officials, political parties and others in Brazil to gain an improper advantage for Braskem and Odebrecht, the U.S. alleged. It said he and others created a slush fund to make the corrupt payments on Braskem’s behalf.

Grubisich left Braskem in 2008.

The case is U.S. v. Grubisich, 19-cr-00102, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

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