October 21, 2014
Antonio Prata – The New York Times, 10/21/2014
We Brazilians suffer from a curious cognitive dysfunction, which occurs with the same frequency in our population as lactose intolerance does among the Japanese, or the inclination for punning among the English. We have the ability to be outraged by corruption, while engaging in our own petty versions of it.
As the second round of presidential voting approaches on Sunday, this evil is spreading like an epidemic. In bars, on the streets and on social networks, advocates of Dilma Rousseff, the Workers Party candidate for re-election, and Senator Aécio Neves, of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, never tire of reminding us of the “robberies” that their rivals commit.
Workers Party supporters cite the re-election scandal in which Social Democrats were accused of bribing congressmen to approve a constitutional amendment allowing Fernando Henrique Cardoso to compete again for the presidency in 1998. Social Democrats’ supporters mention the “Mensalão,” a case in which congressmen allied with the Workers Party regularly received money diverted from Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s illegal campaign contributions. Those not involved in the party squabbles tend to blame all the politicians, as if the politicians were a separate species, able to corrupt our reputable citizens.
October 21, 2014
Sabrina Valle and Juan Pablo Spinetto – Bloomberg Businessweek, 10/20/2014
When in April 2012 Paulo Roberto Costa was eased out of his job as the refinery chief for Brazil’s Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4), the state-run oil giant, it was treated as a routine shakeup, with Chief Executive Officer Maria das Gracas Foster praising him as a “dear colleague” who would be “hard to replace.”
Costa, who was also a company director, seemed unruffled. Within months, he had set up a consulting company in Rio de Janeiro’s up-and-coming Barra de Tijuca beach district, with ambitions to raise about $120 million to build a shipyard and marine repair terminal.
This would be a family affair. During a champagne party to celebrate, he showed reporters the tidy office –- holding mementos from his 35 years at the company known as Petrobras –- that he said his wife had decorated and that he planned to share with one of his two daughters who would work alongside him.
October 16, 2014
Joe Leahy – Financial Times, 10/15/2014
Common wisdom has it that Brazilians have become so desensitised to political scandals – so frequent are they on all sides of the political spectrum – that they make little difference in elections.
But there are signs that what could end up being Brazil’s biggest corruption case – the alleged kickbacks from state-owned oil company Petrobras – could be different. Politicians from the Workers’ party-led ruling coalition are accused of skimming 3 per cent off billions of dollars of contracts signed by Petrobras ahead of the election of incumbent president Dilma Rousseff in 2010.
Not only are Brazilians taking more notice of this scandal – one Facebook user complained last week it meant he was paying 3 cents of every dollar to the Workers’ party, or PT, whenever he fills his car with petrol. “Better to ride a bicycle,” he said.
September 23, 2014
Jon C. Ogg – 24/7 Wall St., 09/22/2014
Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (NYSE: PBR), or Petrobras, is showing how dangerous it can be for one company to be considered such a key market barometer for upcoming elections. With Brazil having tipped from a great emerging market back into a red-tape economy, and now into an economy that keeps weighing social issues over that of domestic and international finance, the question to ask is whether Petrobras is simply becoming too much of a daily barometer for Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections.
As the October 5, 2014, presidential election comes closer and closer, Petrobras shares seem to rise and fall drastically around predictive polling and news flows each day. From an outsider’s view, it is easy to see how and why a socialist-leaning president would be more liked by the bulk of the population — after all, Brazil’s general population is far from wealthy.
The flip side is also easy to see, and that is that international money is not going to flow into a nation that treats capital so poorly. To say that common stock investors of Petrobras are treated poorly in the capital structure would be the understatement of the year. If Petrobras was an international oil giant that acted like most of its large peers in the Americas and Europe, investors would likely flock back into Petrobras (and likely elsewhere in Brazil).
September 9, 2014
Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 09/08/2014
President Dilma Rousseff sought to shield her re-election bid from a new scandal at state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA by asking prosecutors on Monday for any details involving officials in her government.
Brazilian magazine Veja reported on Saturday that a jailed former executive at Petrobras named Energy Minister Edison Lobao and two dozen other politicians as people who received kickbacks from the company’s contracts.
The scandal threatens to further complicate Rousseff’s chances of winning a second term in October in a tight contest, with polls showing her behind environmentalist Marina Silva in a potential runoff. Rousseff told reporters Lobao had “vehemently” denied the allegations. She asked Brazil’s top prosecutor for details of the plea bargain testimony leaked to Veja to see if any government officials are involved so she can take action.
September 9, 2014
Will Connors, Luciana Magalhaes and Jeffrey Lewis - The Wall Street Journal, 09/07/2014
Leading opposition presidential candidate Marina Silva was forced on Sunday to confront a scandal involving Brazil’s biggest company that already tarnished the country’s president and has added another level of complexity to October presidential elections.
A former executive of state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA PETR4.BR -4.91% alleged that dozens of prominent Brazilian politicians—including Ms. Silva’s former running mate Eduardo Campos —took part in a kickback scheme for Petrobras contracts, according to a story published Saturday by a Brazilian newsweekly.
Ms. Silva, a former environment minister who replaced Mr. Campos as the socialist party candidate after his death last month in a plane crash, currently leads incumbent Dilma Rousseff in the polls and has made clean government one of her main selling points.
September 3, 2014
Jeb Blount – Reuters, 09/02/2014
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has put her government’s oil policies front and center in her re-election campaign.
TV ads show dramatic views of giant, floating oil platforms and new refineries under construction. The message: her leftist government is turning an offshore oil bonanza into schools, hospitals and jobs, propelling Brazil into the ranks of developed nations.
But there’s a problem. Brazil’s oil industry may be large and growing, but little of what Rousseff promised when elected in 2010 – or before then as energy minister or chairwoman of state-run energy giant Petrobras – has come to pass.