Brazil’s largest company, Petrobras, accused of political kickbacks

September 18, 2014

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 09/17/2014

The brutalist headquarters of South America’s biggest company, Petrobras, offers a harsh riposte to those who try to romanticise Brazil as a land of golden beaches and endless forest. This week, the concrete edifice in central Rio de Janeiro was the focus of a pro-oil rally by thousands of petrochemical workers amid a presidential election debate dominated by how to manage the nation’s vast fossil fuel reserves.

It is a question that has opened up the biggest gap between President Dilma Rousseff, an old industry champion of the Workers Party, and her main challenger Marina Silva, a former environment minister who has pledged to shift priorities towards alternatives energies like wind, solar and ethanol.

This is more than just a Brazilian rerun of George Bush and Big Oil versus Al Gore and climate concern, because state-run Petrobras is no ordinary company and – with the company also mired in a massive corruption scandal – this is no ordinary time.

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Scandal hits Brazil on eve of election

September 8, 2014

Longview News-Journal, 9/7/2014

As Brazilians prepare to vote in a national election next month, a scandal involving the state-controlled oil giant Petrobras flared up again during the weekend over testimony that implicated dozens of top figures in President Dilma Rousseff’s governing coalition in a vast kickback scheme.

Details of the scheme were revealed in confidential testimony by Paulo Roberto Costa, a jailed former executive who oversaw refining operations at Petrobras until 2012. The testimony was obtained by Veja, a Brazilian magazine. The accusations target Rousseff’s energy minister, Edison Lobão, and the leaders of both houses of Congress, Henrique Eduardo Alves and Renan Calheiros.

The revelations complicate a tough re-election bid by Rousseff, who has seen her lead in the polls vanish amid the surging candidacy of Marina Silva, an environmental leader whose campaign has blasted Rousseff over corruption at Petrobras and called on Brazil to shift toward a greater reliance on renewable energy sources. The election is scheduled for Oct. 5.

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Brazil: No Government Member Accused in Corruption Case

September 8, 2014

TeleSUR, 9/7/2014

The Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff (Workers’ Party – PT, center-left) denied on Sunday that there was any concrete evidence that could involve any members of her government in the corruption case freshly uncovered by the national press.

“I think that [the denunciation] does not involve the government, as no one in the government has been accused of anything,” said Rousseff in a press conference held in the presidential palace of the Alvorada, after a meeting with Brazilian youth.

The national press relayed on Friday and Saturday the alleged declarations of a former director of the national oil company Petrobras, Paulo Roberto Costa, to the police. In the declarations he would have accused dozens of politicians of corruption.

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The Petrobras affair

September 8, 2014

J.P. – The Economist, 9/8/2014

“If I talk, there won’t be an election,” Paulo Roberto Costa, a former executive at Petrobras, was supposed to have warned. Now Mr Costa, arrested in March in a money-laundering probe involving Brazil’s state-controlled oil giant, has started talking. Polling day in Brazil, now less than a month away, will not be cancelled. But if what he says is true, it could affect the outcome.

According to revelations published in Veja, a leading weekly, and Estado de São Paulo, a newspaper, Mr Costa, who ran Petrobras’s refining division from 2004 to 2012, has accused more than 40 politicians of involvement in a vast kickback scheme. The list reportedly includes a minister, three state governors, six senators and dozens of congressmen from President Dilma Rousseff’s Workers’ Party (PT) and several coalition allies. The beneficiaries are alleged to have pocketed 3% of the value of contracts signed with Petrobras in return for supporting the government in congressional votes.

The federal police, who have been taking Mr Costa’s testimony since August 29th, have yet to confirm or deny the press reports. All those who could be contacted have fiercely denied the allegations; at the time of writing The Economist is awaiting a statement from Petrobras, as well as from the police and the government.

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Brazil squanders oil bonanza even as Rousseff declares victory

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.

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Ibovespa Falls With Petrobras as Recent Gains Deemed Excessive

August 12, 2014

Denyse Godoy – Bloomberg Businessweek, 8/12/2014

The Ibovespa fell, led by oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA, amid speculation that recent gains were excessive considering prospects for Brazil’s economy.

Banco Bradesco SA led financial stocks lower. Insurance group BB Seguridade Participacoes SA rallied after reporting profit that beat analysts’ estimates.

The Ibovespa fell 0.3 percent to 56,458.10 at 11:22 a.m. in Sao Paulo. Brazil’s benchmark index has rallied 26 percent from this year’s low on March 14 as Petrobras jumped on speculation that a new government will reduce intervention in state-controlled companies.

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Exclusive: Brazil may raise fuel prices by up to 6 percent

August 12, 2014

Luciana Otoni – Reuters, 8/11/2014

The Brazilian government could increase domestic fuel prices at refineries by up to 6 percent after the October presidential election, a senior government source told Reuters on Monday.

The official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, said an increase of between 5.5 percent and 6 percent is a preliminary calculation and aims to help state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro (PETR4.SA), known as Petrobras.

President Dilma Rousseff, who is running for re-election on Oct. 5, has kept fuel prices below international levels to curb above-target inflation. That policy has hurt the finances of Petrobras, which is forced to buy fuel at international prices and sell it more cheaply in the local market.

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