14 April 2014, News Wires – Brazil’s Federal Police reportedly raided the headquarters of state-run oil company Petrobras in Rio de Janeiro on Friday as part of a money-laundering probe.
Police said they were exercising 23 search and arrest warrants in the cities of Sao Paulo, Campinas, Rio de Janeiro, Macae and Niteroi as part of its “Operacao Lava Jato”, which is an investigation of money laundering by currency exchange houses, Reuters reported.
Petrobras said in a note that Federal Police agents were received by chief executive Maria das Gracas Foster and that the officers ordered the company to provide documentation relating to “a specific contract”, two sources with direct knowledge of the operation told the news wire.
Petrobras did not confirm the motive for the search. Police did not confirm that Petrobras was one of the locations that were raided, Reuters said.
Operacao Lava Jato, which is Portuguese for “Operation Car Wash”, has already resulted in the arrest of at least one former executive at Petrobras.
The raid on Petrobras comes amid a series of scandals that has raised questions about the company’s notoriously high costs, management difficulties and production delays.
These problems have helped transform Petrobras from one of the world’s most sought-after investments into the world’s most indebted and least profitable major oil company.
Paulo Roberto Costa, the former head of the company’s refining and supply unit, was taken into custody on 20 March as part of the probe and is being held at a Federal Police jail in Curitiba in Brazil’s southern state of Parana.
Congress has agreed to open an investigation into Petrobras’ $1.2 billion purchase of a Texas refinery, which was started in 2006 and completed in 2012. Also, police and prosecutors in Europe, the US and Brazil are looking into allegations that Dutch oil-ship leaser SBM Offshore bribed company officials to win vessel contracts.
Petrobras said an internal investigation of the SBM allegations found no sign of wrongdoing.