Honeywell UOP to pay over $160 million to settle foreign bribery investigations in U.S. and Brazil

UOP LLC, doing business as Honeywell UOP, a U.S.-based subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., has agreed to pay more than $160 million to sett;e bribery investigations by criminal and civil authorities in the United States and Brazil over bribes offered to a high-ranking official at Brazil’s state-owned oil company. The U.S. Department of Justice’s resolution is coordinated with prosecutorial authorities in Brazil, as well as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Court documents say Honeywell UOP entered into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the department in connection with a criminal information filed in the Southern District of Texas charging the company with conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The company’s admissions and court documents, between 2010 and 2014, Honeywell UOP conspired to offer an approximately $4 million bribe to a then-high-ranking executive of Petróleo Brasileiro S.A (Petrobras) in Brazil. Specifically, Honeywell UOP offered the bribe to secure improper advantages in order to obtain and retain business from Petrobras in connection with Honeywell UOP’s efforts to win an approximately $425 million contract from Petrobras to design and build an oil refinery called Premium.

“Honeywell UOP offered to pay millions of dollars in bribes to a high-ranking executive at Brazil’s state-owned oil company to win a lucrative contract,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Today’s resolution once again demonstrates that in our relentless fight against corruption, the Department of Justice will work together with our partners, both domestic and foreign, to hold companies accountable for their criminal conduct.”Court documents say that in order to implement the bribery scheme, Honeywell UOP entered into an agency agreement with a sales agent for the purpose of funding and paying the $4 million bribe to the high-ranking Petrobras executive. In exchange for the bribe, and after obtaining business advantages, including inside information and secret assistance, from the Petrobras executive, Honeywell UOP won the contract. Honeywell UOP earned approximately $105.5 million in profits from the corruptly obtained business.   

Honeywell UOP will pay a criminal penalty of approximately $79 million. The department has agreed to credit up to approximately $39.6 million of that criminal penalty against amounts the company has agreed to pay to authorities in Brazil in connection with related proceedings to resolve an investigation by the Controladoria-Geral da União (CGU), the Ministério Público Federal (MPF), and the Advocacia-Geral de União (Attorney General’s Office). In addition, Honeywell UOP will pay approximately $81 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest as part of the resolution of a parallel investigation by the SEC. 

As part of the DPA, Honeywell UOP has agreed to continue to cooperate with the department in any ongoing or future criminal investigations relating to this conduct. In addition, under the agreement, Honeywell UOP and its parent company, Honeywell International Inc., agreed to continue to enhance its compliance program and provide reports to the department regarding the implementation of compliance measures for the term of the DPA.

The FBI Washington Field Office and the IRS-CI Houston Field Office are investigating the case. Brazil’s MPF, CGU, and AGU, as well as the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, provided substantial assistance in this matter.

Assistant Chief Gerald M. Moody Jr. and Trial Attorney Gwendolyn Stamper of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanne Elmilady for the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.

Jeffrey Newman is a whistleblower lawyer with the firm Newman & Shapiro and he can be reached at jnewman@Newmanshapiro.com or at 978-880-4758.