09 September 2014, News Wires – Petrobras has launched a probe into allegations of widespread corruption at the company aired by a jailed former company executive who named dozens of politicians in the alleged graft.
The Brazilian state-owned oil giant has hit back at media reports that surfaced over the weekend, claiming it has been transparent about its business practices and has co-operated with on-going probes into alleged malpractice involving the company.
Paulo Roberto Costa, the former head of downstream from 2004 to 2012, alleged in an interview with local magazine Veja on Saturday that numerous politicians received kickbacks from contracts perviously struck with Petrobras.
Costa named a minister, congressmen and state governors in a list of more than 40 politicians he alleged received a 3% commission on the value of previous contracts, in alleged corrupt dealings aimed at buying support for government in congressional votes.
Costa was arrested in 2013 and is currently in jail under investigation for involvement in the alleged corrupt scheme, having struck a plea bargain with authorities.
Petrobras hit back this week, lashing out at reports based on “unofficial information” obtained from statements that Costa “apparently made to the Federal Police”.
“It would be improper to comment on any unofficial content published by the media,” Petrobras argued. “It is also not appropriate to comment on any ongoing investigations or any statements made by people or companies currently under investigation by the Federal Police or any other regulatory authority.”
Petrobras insisted it “strictly complies with its duties and it has provided all information requested by the Federal Police, the Federal Audit Court, the Federal Comptroller General, and the Public Prosecution Ministry”.
“The company has always informed these bodies about any new facts and data it becomes aware of.”
Further, Petrobras said it has made a request to the judge heading the probe “to gain access to the information related to Petrobras that (Costa) has already provided within the scope of his whistleblower status, and has sent letters to the companies cited in the media, requesting information about the existence of their contracts with companies linked to Mr Alberto Youssef and about any involvement with the activities being investigated”.
Costa is accused of colluding with black market dealer Youssef in the alleged multi-billion dollar kickback scheme.
In its defence, Petrobras said it has “continuously provided information to the whole of society through its website, by issuing press releases, answering inquiries by the media, and announcing any material facts”.
“Thus, the company is transparent regarding anything related to the matters under analysis or investigation.”
Many of the politicians named by Costa have already denied their involvement in the alleged bribery.