U.S. authorities are investigating more than a dozen companies as part of an international bribery probe that has already led to more than 150 arrests in Brazil, according to people familiar with the matter.
Prosecutors in the U.S. and Brazil are effectively dividing the investigation to suit their respective strengths as they pursue suspected graft related to Brazil’s state-run oil giant. Brazilian law allows authorities to file criminal graft charges against people but not companies, whereas the U.S. has been more successful pursuing companies accused of corruption.
The U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission have been speaking with their Brazilian counterparts and gathering information from companies, said three people who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The U.S. is hoping the exchange of documents and other information will allow it to mount a case against Petroleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras, and companies that it had contracts with, two of the people said.