Honeywell International agreed to pay $202.7 million to settle charges it paid bribes to obtain contracts with government entities in Brazil and Algeria.
Honeywell UOP, a U.S.-based subsidiary of Honeywell International, paid $4 million in bribes to an executive at Brazil state-owned oil company Petrobras between 2010-14, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Meanwhile, representatives from Honeywell Belgium paid $75,000 in 2011 to win a bid with the Algerian state-owned oil company Sonatrach, the SEC alleged.
Honeywell—a conglomerate with divisions that include aerospace, energy, healthcare, life sciences, retail, and utilities—was ordered to pay $81 million by the SEC for violating the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal accounting controls provisions of federal securities law, the agency stated in a press release Monday. The company must pay a criminal penalty of approximately $79 million to the DOJ for violating the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
In addition, Honeywell reached agreements with Brazilian authorities as part of a coordinated settlement. The company said in a press release the penalties, disgorgement, and prejudgment interest it will pay total $202.7 million.
UOP hired a sales agent in Brazil to handle the bidding process for a contract to design and build an oil refinery for Petrobras, according to the SEC’s order. The sales agent was to receive a percentage of the winning bid. He did not disclose to Honeywell his work would entail interacting with a government official, although UOP’s Petrobras account manager allegedly knew that detail.
UOP’s first bid of $425 million was rejected by another Petrobras employee who was not part of the bribery scheme, the SEC said. Based on guidance from the Petrobras director accepting bribes, UOP placed a revised bid of $348 million, which was accepted. The bid was terminated before completion, resulting in a profit of $61.5 million, which will be disgorged to the SEC as part of the settlement.
The Algerian bribery scheme involved a “pass-through payment” from Honeywell Belgium to a Sonatrach employee, arranged by an agent based in Monaco. Honeywell paid the Monaco agent $300,000, and he set up a shell company and used $75,000 of that sum to pay a bribe to an official who was “the source of Honeywell’s problems with Sonatrach” during a renegotiation of a contract to perform technical upgrades to an oil refinery, according to the SEC.
As part of the agreement, Honeywell will disgorge $3.1 million in profits earned in that deal to the SEC.
Honeywell entered into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the DOJ in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The DPA contains certain compliance and reporting obligations, the company said. Honeywell also entered into a one-year DPA with Brazilian authorities. Neither DPA includes a compliance monitor, the company said.
Honeywell earned a 25 percent reduction in its fine from the DOJ by cooperating with the agency’s probe, turning over the results of its internal investigation, producing relevant documents, allowing employees to be interviewed by the DOJ, and “proactively disclosing certain evidence of which the department was previously unaware.” Honeywell also terminated and disciplined employees involved in the bribery schemes and strengthened its compliance program, the DOJ said.
“In the many years since the events occurred, the company has meaningfully redesigned and continued to evolve its global ethics and compliance program to meet the evolving risk environment,” Honeywell said in its statement. The company has engaged in “extensive remedial measures” that included strengthening its anti-corruption program, investing in compliance resources, and “continuing to enhance its compliance program and internal controls.”
Honeywell first disclosed the investigations into potential FCPA violations in 2019.