Brazil police conduct new round of raids linked to Petrobras probe

Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Pedro Fonseca – Reuters, 11/16/2015

Brazil’s Federal Police on Monday began a new round of arrests and search and seizure operations in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Bahia related to a corruption probe involving state-controlled oil producer Petróleo Brasileiro SA, police said.

In a statement, the police said officers were making 11 search and seizure orders and looking to arrest two people as part of the 20th round of the so-called “Operation Car Wash” investigation. Another five people are also being searched and will be taken to court in Curitiba, in southern Brazil, where they will be questioned, the statement said.

The seven people are former officials at the company, known as Petrobras, and are under investigation over alleged graft related to contracts for the company’s Abreu e Lima and Pasadena refineries, the statement said.

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Brazil lawmakers move to oust House speaker Eduardo Cunha

Reed Johnson and Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 10/13/2015 

Lawmakers moved to oust the powerful head of Brazil’s lower house of Congress for alleged corruption, complicating a crisis that has upended the nation’s politics and worsened a deep recession.

Fifty legislators from seven political parties asked the ethics committee of the Chamber of Deputies to open a process to remove Eduardo Cunha, who authorities say pocketed millions in bribes as part of a graft ring at state-run oil giant Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras.

“It is pathetic to have as speaker of the house a lawmaker with such accusations against him,” said Deputy Chico Alencar, head of the Socialism and Liberty Party or PSOL. “He needs to be removed…in order not to throw the institution into the mud.”

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Brazil’s continuing corruption problem

Donna Bowater – BBC News, 9/16/2015

When Petrobras was named the most ethical global oil and gas company in 2008, few would have imagined that the company would now find itself at the centre of the biggest corruption investigation in Brazilian history.

But a criminal probe is indeed continuing into alleged corruption at Brazil’s largest business. A number of directors at state-run Petrobras are accused of taking bribes from construction companies, in return for awarding them lucrative contracts.

Public prosecutors and federal police claim that bribes of up to 5% of contract values were being skimmed off.

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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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Odebrecht: Brazilian construction giant in the crosshairs

Daniel Gallas – BBC, 8/3/2015

Many businesses saw their operations blossom too.
Among them, one stood out as a clear winner: Odebrecht group, which owns Latin America’s biggest construction company.
Under the leadership of chief executive Marcelo Odebrecht, whose grandfather founded the company, the group more than doubled in size and revenue in 10 years.

It now has 181,000 employees in 21 countries.
The company won contracts across the world – to expand the Caracas metro system, build a port in Cuba and carry out many infrastructure projects in Africa.

When Brazilian presidents travelled abroad, Odebrecht executives were regular fixtures in the usual business entourage.

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Swiss authorities open investigation into Brazil’s Odebrecht

Will Connors – The Wall Street Journal, 7/22/2015

Swiss authorities on Wednesday said they are investigating units of the Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht SA in connection with a corruption scandal involving Brazil’s state-run oil firm Petróleo Brasileiro SA, broadening an international money-laundering investigation.

The Swiss attorney general’s office alleges, in a statement, that Odebrecht units paid bribes from accounts in Switzerland into separate Swiss accounts held by former Petrobras directors. Swiss authorities didn’t name specific Odebrecht operating units or the Swiss banks involved.

Swiss authorities said they have requested help from Brazilian authorities to question suspects and “secure relevant documentary evidence” in Brazil.

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Police say phone notes tie Odebrecht to Brazil corruption

Paul Kiernan – The Wall Street Journal, 7/21/2015

Notes on an iPhone belonging to jailed Brazilian construction tycoon Marcelo Odebrecht show his “clear intention” to protect two subordinates accused of directly participating in a bid-rigging and bribery scandal, federal police alleged in documents released this week.

Notes from the phone include instructions for Márcio Faria and Rogério Araújo, as well as assurances from Mr. Odebrecht that Brazil’s largest construction conglomerate, Odebrecht SA, would take care of their families, police allege. Mr. Odebrecht is chief executive of the namesake company, which was founded by his grandfather.

Several defendants in Brazil’s ongoing “Car Wash” investigation have testified that Messrs. Faria and Araújo, both former directors at Odebrecht, coordinated bribe payments and worked with a “cartel” of contractors to overcharge state-run oil firm Petróleo Brasileiro SAPETR4.BR -3.74% for major projects.

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