The former CEO of Brazilian petrochemical giant Braskem pleaded guilty Thursday for his role in a scheme to divert hundreds of millions of dollars in bribe payments from the company to government officials and political parties in Brazil.
Jose Carlos Grubisich, a citizen of Brazil, was charged with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and failing “to accurately certify Braskem’s financial reports,” the Department of Justice said in a press release. In addition to his guilty plea, he agreed to pay approximately $2.2 million in forfeiture.
Grubisich, whose sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 5, faces up to 10 years in prison.
Between approximately 2002 and 2014, Grubisich—who served as Braskem’s CEO from 2002-08 and in various capacities for its parent company, Odebrecht—conspired with others to divert approximately $250 million of Braskem’s funds into a secret slush fund “to pay bribes to government officials, political parties and others in Brazil to obtain and retain business,” according to court documents. Grubisich and his coconspirators generated this slush fund through fraudulent contracts and offshore shell companies secretly controlled by Braskem, the Justice Department said.
Grubisich admitted he agreed to pay bribes to Brazilian government officials to ensure Braskem’s retention of a contract for a significant petrochemical project from Brazil’s state-owned and state-controlled oil company Petrobras. He also admitted to falsifying Braskem’s books and records via payments to offshore shell companies recorded as legitimate services.
Grubisich further signed false Sarbanes-Oxley certifications submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission that, among other things, “attested that Braskem’s annual reports fairly and accurately represented Braskem’s financial condition, and that Grubisich, as Braskem’s principal officer, had disclosed all fraudulent conduct by Braskem’s management and other employees with control over Braskem’s financial reporting,” the Justice Department said.
Grubisich’s guilty plea concerns conduct that occurred in 2006 and 2007. In December 2016, Braskem and Odebrecht pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a combined total penalty of $3.5 billion relating to the corruption case.