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Embraer CEO departs amid graft probe

Frederico Curado (Image courtesy of Embraer via YouTube)Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer SA said in an SEC filing Friday that Frederico Curado will step down as chief executive officer after leading the company for nine years.

Paulo Cesar de Souza e Silva, currently chief of Embraer's commercial aviation business, will take over next month from the 55-year-old Curado, the company said.

Embraer said in the SEC filing the moves are part of the "planned succession process." It said the executive transition is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

Embraer shares Friday fell to a two-year low. Industry analysts said Curado's departure was abrupt.

In a statement emailed Monday to the FCPA Blog, the company said: "Embraer reinforces that the CEO succession is a planned process, and there is no relationship between that theme and the mentioned investigations."

In late 2014, Brazil prosecutors filed a criminal action against eight Embraer SA employees for an alleged $3.5 million bribe to an official in the Dominican Republic in return for a $92 million contract for attack planes.

Embraer said the case is under seal and it can't comment.

Three years ago, Embraer disclosed an investigation for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It said in U.S. filings that it received a subpoena from the SEC in September 2010.

The Wall Street Journal said the DOJ and SEC were investigating Embraer's sales practices in the Dominican Republic and other countries. The U.S. agencies shared the evidence with law enforcement authorities in Brazil, the report said.

Embraer SA, the world's third largest commercial aircraft manufacturer, trades on the NYSE under the symbol ERJ.

In March this year, the WSJ reported that a sales consultant told prosecutors in Brazil "he believes the company’s top managers, including Chief Executive Frederico Curado, knew of the illicit payments, which were tied to the sale of military aircraft to the Dominican Republic."

Curado hasn't been charged in the case.

Those charged, according the WSJ report, are an Embraer vice president for sales, Eduardo Munhos de Campos, Orlando Jose Ferreira Neto, another vice president, Embraer regional directors Acir Luiz de Almeida Padilha Jr., Luiz Eduardo Zorzenon Fumagalli, and Ricardo Marcelo Bester, and managers Albert Phillip Close, Luiz Alberto Lage da Fonseca, and Eduardo Augusto Fernandes Fagundes.

They face corruption and money laundering counts, the WSJ said. If convicted they face up to eight years in prison.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He'll be the keynote speaker at the FCPA Blog NYC Conference 2016.