Nov 17, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – Employees attached to Mitsui Ocean Development & Engineering Company (MODEC)— the Japanese company building Guyana’s fifth oil ship—have been charged in a Singapore court for offenses related to bribery and corruption, involving around US$942,000.
Kaieteur News understands from international media publications that a 59-year-old construction manager of Indian origin, along with other employees of MODEC was charged on Friday last for the said offenses.
Specifically, Harish Singhal, an employee of MODEC Offshore Production Systems, a General Contractor specialising in EPC and installation of floating production systems, is accused of accepting bribes, committing money laundering, and deceiving his employer into paying to another company. The offense can lead to hefty fines and imprisonment for up to 10 years.
Court documents also state that between 2011 and 2016, Singhal allegedly conspired with four others to accept bribes for advancing the business interests of a shipping company with Modec, totalling US$942,000.
He also allegedly conspired with others to disguise around US$313,000 of benefits from criminal conduct, in the form of fictitious invoices, for payments between the two companies.
In response to the news, MODEC issued a statement, saying that it was notified that certain employees of its subsidiary, MODEC Offshore Production Systems (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., have been charged in the Singapore courts for offences relating to bribery and corruption.
As the matter is before the Singapore courts, MODEC said it is not in a position to make any further comments on the matter so as to avoid interfering with the judicial process. “We will continue to actively cooperate with the Singapore authorities. We will make further announcements promptly if and when we are aware of any material developments and are permitted to make such announcements,” the Japanese company stated.
MODEC was also keen to note that it takes a zero-tolerance approach towards bribery and corruption. It said, “The allegations were made in a whistleblower’s report submitted via our internal reporting system and were internally investigated by us with the assistance of external counsel.”
MODEC added, “Following our internal investigations, a report was made to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (“CPIB”) of Singapore. We have been fully cooperating with the investigations, have followed the progress of the matter, and have made preparations to manage the outcome and implications.”
Earlier this month, this newspaper had reported that MODEC had signed a contract to perform Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) for a Floating Production, Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO) for ExxonMobil Corporation’s “Uaru” development project in the Stabroek Block.
It should be noted however that this contract signing was done in the absence of Government’s approval for Exxon’s Field Development Plan for Uaru. Even the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project has not been made public as is customary to allow for nationwide consultations. These engagements are usually made prior to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issuing an Environmental Authorization for the project.
Be that as it may, ExxonMobil has awarded the contract for construction works to begin on the ship. MODEC noted that the FEED contract award relates to the initial funding by ExxonMobil’s subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL), to begin FEED activities related to the FPSO design and to secure the second M350TM hull for FPSO service.
Following FEED and subject to Government approvals in Guyana of the development plan, project sanction including final investment decision by ExxonMobil, and EEPGL’s release of the second phase (EPCI) of work, MODEC said it is expected to construct the FPSO and install in Guyana. MODEC is also anticipated to operate the FPSO for an initial duration of 10 years, with potential options for continuation.
Additionally, MODEC said it will design and construct the FPSO based on its M350 new-build design. The FPSO will be designed to produce 250,000 barrels of oil per day; will have associated gas treatment capacity of 540 million cubic feet per day; and water injection capacity of 350,000 barrels per day.
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