Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Limited Resolves Foreign Bribery Case and Agrees to Pay Penalty of Over $18 Million
Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Limited (“Amec Foster Wheeler,” or the “Company”), a subsidiary of John Wood Group plc (“Wood”), a United Kingdom-based global engineering company, has agreed to pay a penalty of more than $18 million to resolve charges stemming from the Company’s involvement in a scheme to pay bribes to foreign officials in Brazil in exchange for an approximately $190 million contract to design a gas-to-chemicals complex.
Earlier today, in federal court in Brooklyn, Amec Foster Wheeler entered into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement (“DPA”) with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Fraud Section in connection with the filing of a criminal information filed in the Eastern District of New York charging the Company with conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). In related proceedings, the Company has received provisional court approval for a settlement with the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office and has settled with the Ministério Público Federal (“MPF”), the Advogado-Geral da União (“AGU”), and the Controladoria-Geral da União (“CGU”) in Brazil. A subsidiary of Wood has also agreed to resolve a related civil matter with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).
Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Nicholas L. McQuaid, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and Steven M. D’Antuono, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington Field Office (FBI), made the announcement.
“Amec Foster Wheeler conspired to pay bribes to officials in Brazil as part of a corrupt scheme to obtain a $190 million government contract and generate millions of dollars in profits,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Kasulis. “The defendant’s lengthy DPA and agreement to pay a penalty of more than $18 million demonstrate the commitment of this Office to enforcing the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA and holding companies like Amec Wheeler Foster accountable for its illegal conduct and corporate greed.”
“Amec Foster Wheeler has now admitted to paying bribes in Brazil to win a lucrative contract,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “In the pursuit of profits, the company resorted to corruption, which distorts markets and undermines the rule of law. Today’s resolution, including the financial penalty and agreement to enhance compliance, underscores the Department of Justice’s commitment to holding companies accountable when they break the law and to rooting out criminal misconduct.”
“Today’s announcement demonstrates the FBI’s dedication to work with our international partners in the global effort to hold individuals and companies accountable who believe corruption is the only way to do business,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge D’Antuono. “When companies like Amec Foster Wheeler attempt to cheat the system, it creates an uneven playing field for businesses who don’t pay bribes. This deferred prosecution agreement, which includes both a substantial criminal penalty and other provisions, should serve as a warning to companies that even using a third-party intermediary to pay bribes will not preclude them from being held responsible for international corruption.”
According to the Company’s admissions and court documents, between 2011 and 2014, Amec Foster Wheeler conspired with others, including an Italian sales agent affiliated with a Monaco-based intermediary company, to pay bribes to decision-makers at Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (“Petrobras”) in order to win a lucrative contract, worth approximately $190 million, from Petrobras to design a gas-to-chemicals complex in Brazil called Complexo Gás-Químico UFN-IV. The Company, through certain of its employees and agents, took acts in furtherance of the scheme while located in New York and Texas, and earned at least $12.9 million in profits from the corruptly obtained business.
As part of the DPA, for a three-year period, Amec Foster Wheeler agreed to continue to cooperate with the U.S. government in any ongoing or future criminal investigations concerning Amec Foster Wheeler, its executives, employees or agents. In addition, Amec Foster Wheeler and its parent company, Wood, agreed to enhance their compliance programs and to report to the government on the implementation of those programs.
The government reached this resolution with Amec Foster Wheeler based on a number of factors, including the Company’s failure to voluntarily and timely disclose the conduct that triggered the investigation, the nature and seriousness of the offense, which spanned multiple years and involved a high level executive, and credit for the Company’s cooperation. The Company also engaged in remedial measures, including terminating the individuals involved in the misconduct and adopting heightened controls and anti-corruption procedures. Accordingly, the criminal penalty reflects a 25 percent reduction off the applicable U.S. Sentencing Guidelines fine for the Company’s full cooperation and remediation.
In related proceedings, the Company also has received provisional court approval for a settlement with the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office and has settled with the MPF, the AGU and the CGU in Brazil. Under the DPA, the Department will credit up to 25 percent ($4,593,750) of the criminal penalty owed to the United States to payments the Company makes pursuant to the resolution with the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office, and up to 33 percent ($6,125,000) of the criminal penalty owed to the United States to payments the Company makes pursuant to the resolution with Brazilian authorities.
In a related civil matter with the SEC, a subsidiary of Wood has agreed to pay the SEC disgorgement and prejudgment interest totaling approximately $22.7 million for the conduct in Brazil.
The FBI’s Washington Field Office is investigating the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Nestor of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Chief Gerald M. Moody, Jr. and Trial Attorney Dennis Kihm of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case. The U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office and Brazil’s MPF, AGU, and CGU provided significant assistance.
Amec Foster Wheeler Energy Limited
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 21-CR-298 (KAM)
United States Attorney's Office