Colin Stevens, a former vice president of sales and marketing with Embraer Executive Jets, has pleaded guilty in connection with a scheme to bribe a high-level Saudi Arabian government official in 2010 in exchange for assistance in selling Embraer aircraft to the country’s national oil company. According to information released by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), 61-year-old Stevens, a UK national living in the UAE, admitted to crimes including violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), committing conspiracy to violate the FCPA, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, and making a false statement.
As part of his plea, Stevens admitted that he engaged in a plot to have Embraer pay bribes to a foreign official in exchange for assistance in getting an aircraft sales contract awarded to Embraer on favorable terms, as well as receiving a kickback in the scheme and then lying to law enforcement officials about that kickback. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
The guilty plea follows a deferred prosecution agreement between the airframer and the DOJ made in October 2016, with respect to an investigation that found irregular transactions occurred in four different countries in the past decade. Under this arrangement, Embraer agreed to pay a $107 million penalty related to a wider investigation by U.S. and Brazilian officials into corrupt conduct in several countries, including Saudi Arabia.
In a statement, Embraer noted the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has been conducting investigations with regard to certain individuals, and that it is not a part of, nor has it been informed of, the development of these investigations.
The airframer added that it treated the matter seriously and fully cooperated with the investigation. As events unfolded, the company said, it voluntarily expanded its scope and shared the results with the relevant authorities.