Brazil police arrest former presidential chief of staff

Sergio Spagnuolo – Reuters, 8/3/2015 

Brazil’s federal police on Monday arrested former government minister Jose Dirceu, one of the most senior members of the ruling Workers’ Party to be jailed so far in a probe of alleged corruption at state-run oil company Petrobras.

Dirceu, chief-of-staff in Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s administration between 2003 and 2005, was already under house detention for conducting a vote-buying scheme. His involvement in an even larger scandal threatens to further tarnish the popular former president’s legacy.

Federal prosecutor Carlos Fernando dos Santos Lima said during a press conference that Dirceu was one of the key instigators of the Petrobras scandal and took bribes while in office.

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‘We Got Brazil Wrong’ – Fund Managers React to Brazil Slump

Christopher Whittall – The Wall Street Journal, 7/30/2015.

It’s not much fun being an emerging-market investor at the moment.Collapsing commodity prices and an imminent U.S. interest rate rise have wreaked havoc on many emerging-market currencies and bonds.

Nowhere is this felt more keenly than Brazil, where the central bank raised interest rates Wednesday to tame high levels of inflation.

Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services downgraded Brazil’s outlook to negative from stable Tuesday to reflect the country’s ongoing difficulty in getting its finances in order. S&P currently rates the country just one notch above investment grade.

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Italy’s Saipem implicated in Petrobras corruption scandal in Brazil

Will Connors – The Wall Street Journal, 7/29/2015

Brazilian authorities on Wednesday accused Italian oil company Saipem of being involved in a corruption scheme involving Brazil’s state-run oil company, Petróleo Brasileiro SA, the latest international firm to be implicated in the wide-ranging scandal.

Brazilian federal prosecutors accused former Petrobras services director Renato Duque, who was arrested earlier this year for allegedly taking part in the scheme and is currently in prison, of accepting bribes from João Bernardi, a sales representative for Saipem in Brazil.

Both men were charged with money laundering and corruption on Wednesday.

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Private equity firms raise funds in Brazil despite challenges

Vinod Sreeharsha – The New York Times, 7/27/2015

The private equity firm Hamilton Lane is raising its second fund of funds here from local investors, seeking 300 million reais, or about $90 million, according to a person with knowledge of its plans.

The firm expects to hold a first close during the fourth quarter of this year, by when it should have at least half that amount, the individual said.

But Hamilton Lane had expected to reach its first close in this year’s second quarter, according to the individual, a reflection of the current tough economic climate here. That person spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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Brazil port town’s boom-to-bust Is window into what went wrong

Carla Simoes and Mario Sergio Lima – Bloomberg Business, 7/27/2015

Santos Port has always been known as Brazil’s gateway to the world. Now, it’s also a window into what went wrong in Latin America’s biggest economy.

Exports from Santos have tumbled as demand from China sags. Companies betting on a boon as massive offshore oil finds were developed are now scaling back after Petroleo Brasileiro SA said it will cut investments by a third. And real-estate prices are falling as entire buildings stand vacant.

Nowhere, perhaps, are Brazil’s unfulfilled promises as an almost superpower more apparent than Santos, Latin America’s busiest port. About an hour outside of Sao Paulo, Santos benefited from the dual boon of the commodities supercycle and the government spending spree it afforded. Now, it’s feeling the double blow of a corruption scandal at Petrobras and Brazil’s worst recession in a quarter century.

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Brazil hopes to strengthen trade relations with Russia

Sputnik, 7/27/2015

Brazil wants its trade relations with Russia to strengthen and continue past the end of the Moscow-imposed ban on agricultural imports from Western countries that hit it with sanctions, Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply Katia Abreu told Sputnik Brazil.

The European Union, the United States and their allies imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia for its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis in 2014. Moscow has repeatedly denied those claims, and, in August 2014, responded by imposing a year-long ban on certain food imports from the countries that imposed the economic restrictions.

In late June, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree extending the countermeasures.

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Brazil starts exporting soy from new Northeast terminal

Gustavo Bonato – Reuters, 7/25/2015

Two soybean cargoes have recently departed from a new terminal in northeast Brazil operated by VLI and local trader Multigrain, the latest option in the region as exporters look for alternatives to Brazil’s overcrowded southern ports.

A third ship carrying 27,800 tonnes of soy contracted by Multigrain is anchored in the Barra dos Coqueiros terminal in Sergipe state, according to shipping agencies and Thomson Reuters data.

The first known soy terminal in Sergipe will export just 150,000 tonnes of soy per year, but it is part of a broader trend to increase capacity and cut costs for exporters in Brazil by developing new shipping routes closer to the Panama Canal.

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