Brasilia — Brazil’s federal police were serving 25 search warrants as part of an investigation regarding foreign-exchange transactions done by state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA between 2008 and 2011, according to a statement from federal prosecutors on Thursday.
The raids are part of the 74th phase of Brazil’s so-called Car Wash probe, the country’s largest-ever corruption investigation. No arrest warrants were issued.
Petrobras, as the oil major is known, said in a statement it is conducting internal investigations. It also said it “actively collaborated with the authorities in the probe and provided information that resulted in [today’s] operation.”
Unnamed executives of Banco Paulista, a São Paulo-based financial firm, are also a party in this phase of the probe, according to the prosecutors’ statement.
“Evidence surfaced that financial directors [of Petrobras] directed forex contracts to Banco Paulista, with artificial manipulation of market rates,” the statement said.
Banco Paulista said the probe concerns the bank’s forex operations between 2008 and 2011, which have been investigated in the past. Banco Paulista said its forex desk is “extinct,” adding its current management is unaware of the object of the forex probe in question.
Petrobras reiterated its “zero tolerance” of fraud and corruption, restating it is “a victim” of the irregularities investigated in the Car Wash probe.
The new phase of the investigation revealed that Banco Paulista intermediated 7.7 billion reais ($1.45 billion) of forex transactions for Petrobras between 2008 and 2011, according to prosecutors.
($1 = 5.3092 reais)
(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia and Sabrina Valle in Rio de Janeiro; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Matthew Lewis)