Brazil's aircraft manufacturer Embraer has agreed to pay some US$205 million to settle corruption charges involving sales of military and civil airplanes to four customers. records to conceal illicit payments.
The agreements with the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Brazil’s Ministério Público Federal (MPF) and the Brazilian Comissão de Valores Mobiliários (CVM) ends a six-year graft probe that found that Embraer paid bribes and created false records to conceal illicit payments.
As part of the settlement, the company has agreed to retain an external and independent “monitorship” for up to three years to ensure full compliance with the settlement terms. The settlement also means that none of the authorities will bring charges against the company as long as Embraer fully honors the terms of the agreement.
This inquiry began in 2010, when U.S. authorities questioned Embraer about “potential nonconformities” related to certain commercial transactions abroad. The company proceeded to undertake an investigation led independently by external law firms.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that Embraer made more than US$83 million in profits as a result of bribe payments from its U.S.-based subsidiary through third-party agents to foreign government officials in the Dominican Republic, Saudi Arabia and Mozambique. Embraer also allegedly engaged in an accounting scheme in India.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Embraer paid US$3.52 million in bribes to an official in the Dominican Republic’s air force to secure a contract for eight Super Tucano light attack airplanes to that country, and another US$1.65 million in bribes to an official in Saudi Arabia to win a sale of three E170s to Saudi Aramco. It also allegedly paid US$800,000 at the behest of a Mozambican government official as a condition of obtaining a contract involving two E190s with state-owned LAM. Finally, some US$5.76 million allegedly went to an agent in India in connection with the sale of three military surveillance aircraft for India’s air force. Embraer falsely recorded those payments in its books and records as part of an illegitimate consulting agreement.
“As alleged in our complaint, Embraer realized significant revenues by surreptitiously using third parties to mask bribes paid to government officials with influence over contracts it was competing to win,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, director of the SEC Enforcement Division.
In a statement, Embraer said its internal investigation involved the analysis of hundreds of thousands of documents and more than 100 interviews with employees and third parties.
“The company acknowledges responsibility for the conduct of its employees and agents according to the facts ascertained in the investigation,” it said. “Embraer deeply regrets this conduct. The company has learned from this experience and will be stronger as it moves forward and continues its nearly 50 years of successful existence in which it has delivered more than 8,000 aircraft in over 90 countries.”