US authorities arrest Brazilian ex-CEO in bribery case

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NEW YORK (AP) — The former CEO of Brazilian petrochemical company Braskem SA was arrested on U.S. corruption charges involving a slush fund used to bribe officials in Brazil, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Jose Carlos Grubisich, who was taken into custody at Kennedy Airport, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Brooklyn to violating anti-bribery and other provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and to conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The 62-year-old defendant was ordered held without bail after prosecutors argued he was a flight risk.

An email seeking comment was sent to Grubisich’s lawyer.

While the Braskem CEO from 2002 through 2008, Grubisich joined a conspiracy with an affiliated construction company called Odebrecht to divert about $250 million into a bribery slush fund, court papers said. Grubisich authorized Braskem to pay more than $16 million in bribes while seeking to build a facility in Brazil and get price breaks from a state-owned oil company, the papers say.

Grubisich stepped down as CEO in 2008 but continued to have business ties with Braskem and Obedrecht, the papers say. Between 2010 and 2014, Grubisich “received at least $2.6 million from the Odebrecht bribe department into a bank account in Switzerland,” they say.

In 2016, Braskem and Odebrecht agreed to pay $3.5 billion to U.S., Brazilian and Swiss authorities to settle bribery allegations.

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