February 9, 2015 8:14 pm
Petrobras scandal draws in foreign investors
Joe Leahy in São Paulo and Jeremy Grant in Singapore
- Two major Singaporean shipbuilders and three Brazilian companies with Japanese shareholders have been accused of paying bribes in the corruption scandal at Brazilian state-controlled oil group Petrobras.
- It is the first time a group of international investors has been linked to the scandal that is threatening to drive Brazil’s most important company into bankruptcy.
- New feature
- Mr Barusco said that units of the two Singaporean companies – Keppel Corporation and Sembcorp Marine — were among five shipbuilders that participated in a bribes-for-contracts scheme also involving officials at Petrobras and Sete Brasil. The testimony of Mr Barusco — who has admitted he is among the Sete Brasil officials who received payments — was filed in a Brazilian court and reported by local media.The shipbuilders were required to pay bribes worth of 0.9 per cent of contracts with Sete Brasil to a group that included the treasurer of Brazil’s ruling Workers’ Party, João Vaccari Neto, and a range of Petrobras and Sete Brasil officials, Mr Barusco said.Mr Vaccari and the Workers’ Party denied receiving illegal payments or political donations. Sete Brasil said it was seeking further information on Mr Barusco’s testimony.A spokesperson representing shareholders at Estaleiro Rio Grande declined to comment. Estaleiro Atlântico Sul did not respond to requests for comment.The corruption scandal is preventing Petrobras from releasing audited accounts, placing the company in danger of violating covenants with creditors. President Dilma Rousseff on Friday appointed a new chief executive at Petrobras, Aldemir Bendine, in an attempt to stabilise the oil group.Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2015.
- One of the first tasks for Mr Bendine, who previously headed the state-owned bank Banco do Brasil, will be to issue audited accounts for Petrobras, providing a write-off for the losses at the company from corruption.
- Mr Barusco said in the testimony that the parties to the alleged bribery scheme agreed “that the division [of the money] should be conducted in the following format: two-thirds to João Vaccari; and one-third to ‘House 1’ and ‘House 2’”. The two houses were allegedly Petrobras and Sete Brasil officials respectively.
- Odebrecht, a shareholder in Estaleiro Enseada do Paraguaçu, rejected the “slanderous” allegations and denied paying any officials at Petrobras. “The company does not and never has participated in any type of cartel,” it said.
- In statements to the Singapore stock exchange on Monday, Keppel Corporation said it “refuted” allegations that its unit in Brazil, Keppel FELS Brasil, was involved in the Petrobras scandal. Sembcorp Marine denied that its unit, Jurong Aracruz Shipyard, had made “illegal” payments.
- The three Brazilian shipbuilders named by Mr Barusco were Estaleiro Atlântico Sul, which is 33 per cent owned by Japan’s JMU/IHI shipyard; Estaleiro Enseada do Paraguaçu, which is 30 per cent held by Japan’s Kawasaki; and Estaleiro Rio Grande, which numbers JB Minovix – a consortium of Japanese companies including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries – among its minority shareholders.
- Pedro Barusco, a former director of Sete Brasil — a leasing company in charge of supplying 29 drilling rigs for Petrobras through shipbuilders — made the allegations about the Singaporean and Brazilian companies in testimony to federal police.