March 17, 2016 / 2:09 PM / 4 years ago

Embraer consultant says believes CEO knew of bribery: WSJ

Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer's CEO Frederico Curado speaks during the Reuters Latin America Investment Summit 2013 in Sao Paulo May 23, 2013. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

(Reuters) - A sales consultant told Brazilian prosecutors he believes planemaker Embraer SA’s top officials, including Chief Executive Frederico Curado, knew of illicit payments related to the sale of military aircraft to the Dominican Republic, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Embraer is under investigation by the U.S. and Brazilian authorities for allegedly bribing officials in the Dominican Republic to secure deals for commercial and defense aircraft.

According to official summaries of sales consultant Elio Moti Sonnenfeld’s statements, he received a payment of $3.4 million from Embraer for work he did not perform, and which he passed along as a bribe to a public official in the Dominican Republic, the newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The Journal, citing a person close to the case, reported on Thursday that a Brazilian judge had dismissed criminal charges against Sonnenfeld in February.

The alleged bribery helped Embraer secure a $92 million contract in 2008 to sell eight turboprop attack support aircraft to the Carribean country.

An Embraer official, declining to comment directly on Sonnenfeld’s reported statements, said Wednesday’s Journal story was based on allegations that were apparently leaked from confidential testimony in a legal case in Brazil, the details of which were not available to the company.

The official noted that Embraer had stated publicly that it was conducting an internal investigation and cooperating with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in relation to possible violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

Prosecutors in Brazil filed a criminal complaint in 2014 against Sonnenfeld and eight former Embraer vice presidents, directors and managers, charging them with corruption and money laundering.

CEO Curado has not been named as a defendant and has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Reporting by Priscila Jordao in Sao Paulo and; Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi

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