Exclusive: U.S. graft probes may cost Petrobras record $1.6 billion or more

Jeb Blount & Mica Rosenberg – Reuters, 8/18/2015

Brazil’s Petrobras may need to pay record penalties of $1.6 billion or more to settle U.S. criminal and civil probes into its role in a corruption scandal, a person recently briefed by the company’s legal advisors told Reuters.

State-run Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally known, expects to face the largest penalties ever levied by U.S. authorities in a corporate corruption investigation, according to the person, who has direct knowledge of the company’s thinking. The settlement process could take two to three years, this person said.

To date, the largest settlement of corporate corruption charges with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was a 2008 agreement with Siemens AG, the German industrial giant. It agreed to pay the United States $800 million to settle charges related to its role in a bribery scheme, and paid about the same amount to German authorities.

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Cardoso to Rousseff: admit your mistakes or resign

8/17/2015

Following the third wave of massive street demonstration in Brazil on Sunday August 16, former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso issued a statement on August 17  asking President Dilma Rousseff to step down or admit she made mistakes in order to  regain the trust of the Brazilian people and recover her lost political legitimacy

The most significant part of the demonstrations, such as the ones that took place yesterday, is the persistence of the popular sentiment that the government, albeit legal, is illegitimate. It is lacking a moral base that has been eroded by the  shenanigans of lulopetismo (government led by Luis Inacio Lula da Silva of the Workers’ Party). Similar to the metaphor of the doll dressed as a prisoner [seen in street protests], even though our President can personally protect herself, she suffers contamination by the misdeeds of her patron and continuously loses the ability to govern. At this point, collusion behind closed doors is only increasing the negative reactions of citizens and does not return legitimacy to the government – that is – the acceptance of its right to command, to lead.  If the President is unable to make a gesture of greatness (resignation or a frank admission that she made mistakes and offer paths to be taken for national recovery), we will witness the growing disarticulation of the government and the Congress, taking hits from the Lavajato scandal. That is until a leader with moral strength says, as Ulysses Guimarães [who led the campaign to reinstate democracy following the  1964-1985 military dictatorship did,Constitution in hand, as he addressed (then President Fernando) Collor ( just before he was impeached): “You think you are President, Sir, but you no longer are.

The statement in Portuguese:

 

O mais significativo das demonstrações, como as de ontem, é a persistência do sentimento popular de que o governo, embora legal, é ilegítimo. Falta-lhe a base moral, que foi corroída pelas falcatruas do lulopetismo. Com a metáfora do boneco vestido de presidiário, a Presidente, mesmo que pessoalmente possa se salvaguardar, sofre contaminação dos malfeitos de seu patrono e vai perdendo condições de governar. A esta altura, os conchavos de cúpula só aumentam a reação popular negativa e não devolvem legitimidade ao governo, isto é, a aceitação de seu direito de mandar, de conduzir. Se a própria Presidente não for capaz do gesto de grandeza (renúncia ou a voz franca de que errou, e sabe apontar os caminhos da recuperação nacional), assistiremos à desarticulação crescente do governo e do Congresso, a golpes de Lavajato. Até que algum líder com forca moral diga, como o fez Ulysses Guimarães ao Collor: “O sr.  pensa que é presidente, mas já não é mais”.

Brazil omits Israel from passports of Jerusalem-born citizens

JTA – The Jerusalem Post, 8/9/2015

Brazilian passports of citizens who were born in Jerusalem will no longer name Israel as country of birth, the foreign ministry in Brasilia decided.

The decision to omit Israel from such documents was taken last year, the Brazilian embassy in Tel Aviv told the Folha de Sao Paulo daily, which published an article on the subject on Thursday.

The decision only recently reached Brazilian media, which was alerted to the change in policy by Brazilian Israelis.

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Brazil opposes policy of unilateral sanctions outside UN legal field

Sputnik Brazil, 7/09/2015

Brazil does not recognize the use of unilateral sanctions outside the UN legal field as they hurt the economic situation in the region of application and their legitimacy raises doubts, Brazilian Minister of External Relations Mauro Vieira told Sputnik Brazil.

“Brazil generally does not recognize sanctions applied outside of the UN legal field… We consider unilateral sanctions a tool the legitimacy of which is questionable,” Vieira said, answering a question about Brazil’s position on anti-Russia sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West.

“That’s why we do not recognize or support them,” Vieira said, adding that sanctions do not contribute to the building of a relationship of trust between parties for a peaceful political settlement of existing issues and hamper the resumption of economic growth in the region where they are applied.

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Brazil hails long-awaited EU trade breakthrough

Joe Leahy – The Financial Times, 7/01/2015

Mercosur and the EU appear set to exchange formal offers on tariffs by the end of the year, raising hopes that the South American bloc is close to clinching the biggest trade deal in its 24-year history.

Armando Monteiro, the Brazilian trade and industry minister, told the Financial Times in an interview that the exchange of market access offers would mark an important step towards full implementation of the proposed trade deal as early as next year.

The South American bloc and the EU have been engaged in on-off talks on a deal since 1999.

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Brazil Federal Police arrest another former Petrobras executive

Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 7/02/2015

Brazil’s federal police have arrested another former executive of state-run energy company Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, as part of an investigation into a broader corruption scandal that has wounded the country’s largest company.

Police arrested Jorge Zelada, a former top executive of Petrobras, early Thursday at his home in Rio de Janeiro. Mr. Zelada was arrested on suspicion of corruption and money laundering, said a police spokesman. Mr. Zelada’s lawyer couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Mr. Zelada was director of international operations of Petrobras from 2008 to 2012. He replaced Nestor Cerveró, who was convicted in May of money laundering and sentenced to five years in prison for his role in the widening scandal.

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