Brazil’s Petrobras raises fuel prices

Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 9/30/2015

Brazil’s state-run oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA said it will raise fuel prices across the country with immediate effect.

Petrobras, under a new administration, will raise gasoline prices by 6% and diesel prices by 4% at its refineries, the company said in a news release late Tuesday. Any change to prices at the pump is still unclear, as they are set by gas-station owners.

Petrobras needs to import gasoline and diesel fuel to meet domestic demand. The weakening of the Brazilian currency, the real, against the U.S. dollar has made those imports more expensive.

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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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Sins of Brazil’s Labor Party haunt local business

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 9/13/2015

Last week, a Brazilian court said that ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva might have been involved in the ongoing Petrobras scandal. They are investigating whether he received any kind of kickbacks from the oil major that helped him or his top party officials fund campaigns, among other things.

The operative word here is “might” have been involved. But with public perception so negative on Brazil, both on the streets and in the markets, Lula might as well be a hanged man. Clearly, the Workers’ Party he created is in shambles. Many of its founders and top officials over the last decade have been put in jail. Some released, like ex-Finance Minister Antonio Palocci, and others still serving time, like Lula’s ex-chief of staff Jose Dirceu. The Petrobras scandal may have destroyed Lula’s Party, known there as PT.

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Brazil police want to question former president Silva on kickback scheme at Petrobras

Stan Lehman – U.S. News, 9/11/2015

Brazil’s Supreme Court on Friday said that federal police have asked for its permission to question former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for possible involvement in the kickback scheme that has engulfed state-owned oil company Petrobras.

The court’s press office confirmed the request, which was first reported by weekly newsmagazine Epoca on its website on Friday. The court received the request on Wednesday. It has not indicated when it would rule on the police request to question Silva.

According to parts of the request published by the magazine, police believe Silva “may have obtained advantages for himself, his party … and the government while he was president by maintaining a base of political support sustained by illicit business” at Petrobras.

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LATAM WRAP-Venezuela rallies as Brazil continues to underperform

Paul Kilby – Forbes, 9/3/2015

Brazil remained the underperformer on Thursday in an otherwise buoyant day for Latin American bond markets as oil prices recovered and investors focused on specific credit stories.

Brazilian credits remained under pressure amid speculation that Finance Minister Joaquim Levy may eventually step down following the country’s first-ever budget to forecast a primary deficit.

Petrobras 2024s were being quoted 10bp wider, albeit at a wide bid-offer spread of 620bp-635bp.

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Rolls-Royce entangled in Brazil’s corruption scandal

CNN Money, 8/31/2015

Rolls-Royce, the crown jewel of British engineering, has been dragged into Brazil’s colossal corruption scandal.The company said it was cooperating with the Brazilian authorities investigating bribery at state-owned oil giant Petrobras.

“We have repeatedly made it clear that Rolls Royce will not tolerate business misconduct of any kind,” a Rolls-Royce spokesperson said. He declined further comment.

Rolls Royce (RYCEY), which supplies turbines for Petrobras’ oil drilling platforms, has been accused of giving kickbacks to officials in order to secure contracts in Brazil.

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Judge rallies Brazil to anti-graft war

Geoff Dyer – Financial Times, 9/01/2015

The Brazilian judge at the centre of the investigation into widespread corruption at Petrobras has been rallying public support for the probe just as the impact on the economy from the scandal is starting to become clearer.

In a series of events in São Paulo in recent days where he received rapturous receptions, Sérgio Moro called on the public to continue supporting the Petrobras investigation and insisted that corruption was the real danger to the economy, not its prosecution.

“Confronting systematic corruption will bring significant gains for all of us, for companies and for the economy in general,” he said at a conference of business executives on Monday. “The cost of systematic corruption is extraordinary.”

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