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UPDATE 1-Ex-Embraer executive pleads guilty to U.S. corruption charges

(Adds details on charges, background on Embraer corruption investigations)

NEW YORK, Dec 21 (Reuters) - A former executive at Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer SA pleaded guilty on Thursday to U.S. charges that he arranged a bribe to an employee of Saudi Arabia's state-owned Saudi Aramco to secure a contract for the sale of three jets.

Colin Steven, 61, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan. He said at the hearing that others at Embraer had approved of the payment and that he had agreed to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors.

He said he used a South African company as an intermediary to conceal the nature of the payment.

Steven, who was charged with violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy, was released on bail following his court hearing.

Embraer agreed in October 2016 to pay $205.5 million to settle a six-year corruption investigation by U.S. and Brazilian authorities.

The company said at the time that the investigation involved the sale of three E170 jets to Saudi Aramco for about $93 million, as well as deals in India, Mozambique and the Dominican Republic. (Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)