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Ex Petrobras director admits bribe in Texas refinery deal

The jailed former chief of refining at Brazil’s state-run oil company has reportedly confessed to taking a bribe of about $636,000 in connection with Petrobras’ purchase of a refinery in Texas.

Paulo Roberto Costa was arrested in March as part of an investigation into money laundering. Four months later, police added bribery to his charges.

The report of his confession about the bribe was broadcast on Brazil’s Jornal Naciona news program late Thursday, the World Bulletin said.

Costa has been cooperating with federal prosecutors.

His recent allegations of bribery among Brazil’s top politicians have shaken the reelection bid in October of President Dilma Roussef.

The Brazil government owns 51% of Petrobras.

In April, Brazil’s senate launched an investigation into allegations that the company overpaid for an oil refinery in Pasadena, Texas in 2006.

President Roussef was a board member of Petrobras at the time.

The company paid $1.7 billion for the refinery and so far has written off $500 million on the value of the investment.

Roussef has denied knowing about any alleged bribery schemes at Petrobras.

Police are also investigating $20 billion in transactions between Petrobras and construction firms involved in the company’s Abreu e Lima Refinery near Recife, Brazil.

Costa has alleged that lawmakers from both major political parties received three percent commissions on the value of the contracts signed by Petrobras while he served as director of refining from 2004 to 2012. Two newspapers reported that between 25 and 50 deputies and senators have been named.

In March this year, prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into allegations that Petrobras employees took $139 million in bribes from Dutch supplier SBM Offshore in exchange for equipment supply and drilling contracts.

Last month, Netherlands-based SBM included a $240 million provision for a settlement of investigations into improper sales practices in several countries.

Petrobras has been called the most indebted oil company in the world. Its long-term debt grew to $126.5 billion by the end of March, from $90.6 billion a year earlier.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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