(Adds details of allegations, Braskem and Odebrecht 2016 guilty plea, case citation, byline)
NEW YORK, April 15 (Reuters) - A former chief executive of Braskem SA, Brazil’s largest petrochemicals company, pleaded guilty on Thursday to involvement in what U.S. prosecutors called a 13-year bribery scheme that involved Braskem’s parent, Odebrecht SA.
Jose Carlos Grubisich admitted in Brooklyn, New York, federal court to conspiring to violate anti-bribery provisions of the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and falsify Braskem’s records and financial reports to conceal bribes.
Prosecutors said that between 2002 and 2014, Grubisich and others helped divert $250 million from Braskem into a secret slush fund, which was held in an Odebrecht business unit that “effectively functioned as a stand-alone bribe department.”
Funds were then allegedly used to pay bribes to Brazilian government officials to win and retain business for Braskem, including a large project from Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras.
Prosecutors said some bribes that Grubisich authorized were paid after he left his chief executive position in 2008.
Grubisich, 64, faces up to 10 years in prison on the two conspiracy counts at his scheduled Aug. 5 sentencing, and agreed to forfeit $2.2 million. He entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie.
Lawyers for Grubisich did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In December 2016, Braskem and Odebrecht, a construction company, pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $3.5 billion to settle bribery-related charges brought by U.S., Brazilian and Swiss regulators.
Odebrecht changed its name in December to Novonor SA to move past its scandal-ridden history, saying it would be “strictly guided by ethics, integrity and transparency.”
The case is U.S. v. Grubisich, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, No. 19-cr-00102. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York Editing by Alistair Bell and Steve Orlofsky)
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