15 April 2014, News Wires – Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has lashed out at critics of Petrobras, saying accusations of corruption, cost-overruns and stagnation at the state-run oil company were politically motivated, according to a report.
“I won’t tolerate any type of wrongdoing, criminal action, influence peddling or corruption of any type no matter who commits it,” Rousseff said during the launch of an oil tanker at a shipyard near Recife, Brazil, according to a Reuters report.
“At the same time I won’t stand by quietly when people carry out a politically motivated, negative campaign to hurt the company’s image.”
Petrobras is at the center of a mushrooming corruption scandal including a police raid on its headquarters and the arrest of at least one former company director. It may also face an investigation of one of its refineries in Texas.
The company, whose $221 billion five-year investment plan is one of the world’s largest corporate spending programmes, is also being investigated by police and prosecutors in Brazil, the US and Europe over more than $100 million of alleged bribes to company officials by Netherlands-based SBM Offshore.
Petrobras’ market value has slipped from nearly $300 billion in 2008, when it was one of the world’s most valuable companies, to less than $100 billion. It is also the world’s most indebted and least-profitable major oil company.
The Petrobras troubles threaten to eat into support for Rousseff, who is running for re-election in October and has seen her government’s approval rating slip to 36% from 42% in recent weeks, Reuters said.
Rousseff said critics are manipulating information about the company’s performance.
“Those who say Petrobras is losing value and importance in Brazil are wrong,” Rousseff reportedly said. “They manipulate data, they distort analyses, they deliberately fail to realize the reality of the world petroleum market to turn temporary market-wide problems into supposedly irreversible and definitive facts.”
She argued that, rather than hurting the company, her government and that of her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, have revived a company that was ignored and poorly treated by previous administrations.