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  1. #1
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    [EN] Swiss AG freezes $400 million in Petrobras bribe probe

    By Nicolas Torres | Friday, March 20, 2015

    The Swiss attorney general issued an order this week to freeze $400 million of assets allegedly tied to a corruption scheme at Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras.

    The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) said Wednesday it has released $120 million of the frozen assets for repatriation after reaching an agreement with two account holders.

    “The release of over $120 million reflects Switzerland’s clear intention to take a stand against the misuse of its financial center for criminal purposes and to return funds of criminal origin to their rightful owners,” the OAG said.

    The attorney general has opened nine investigations into alleged money laundering tied to Petrobras since April 2014 involving eight Brazilian citizens and one person who has yet to be identified.

    The OAG has received about 60 reports flagging “suspicious transactions” from the Money Laundering Reporting Office that may also be connected to corruption at Petrobras.

    The OAG said its probe has uncovered over 300 accounts at over 30 Swiss banks that were “apparently used to process the bribery payments under investigation in Brazil.”

    The accounts are owned by senior executives at Petrobras and the company’s suppliers, financial intermediaries and Brazilian and other foreign companies that have either directly or indirectly paid bribes, the attorney general said.

    “The Brazilian bribery scandal affects Switzerland’s financial center and its anti-money-laundering strategy, with result that the OAG has a close interest in contributing fully to the resolution of the scandal through its own investigations,” the OAG said.

    Swiss criminal proceedings into the case are ongoing.

    Last week the Financial Times reported that former Petrobras executive Pedro Barusco admitted to using Swiss bank accounts in a bribery scheme at the company.

    Barusco told Brazilian officials he opened a number of accounts at different banks including an account at HSBC he shared with his wife.

    The Swiss investigation is part of an international probe into alleged graft at Petrobras that has already landed three former executives in jail.

    Former Petrobras downstream chief Paulo Roberto Costa was arrested last year for allegedly participating in a $3.96 billion money laundering scheme. He said company officials skimmed as much as 3 percent off Petrobras contracts.

    Costa later admitted taking a $636,000 bribe in connection with the company’s 2006 purchase of a Texas refinery.
    http://www.fcpablog.com/blog/2015/3/...ibe-probe.html

  2. #2
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    Brazil's workers pay price of Petrobras scandal amid layoffs and unpaid wages

    Jonathan Watts in Itaboraí

    Friday 20 March 2015 15.36 GMT

    When the first whispers of a corruption scandal at Brazil’s biggest oil company started doing the rounds early last year, construction workers building the firm’s new refinery in Itaboraí paid little attention.

    Allegations of bribes, kickbacks and inflated contracts were nothing new in their industry. If the past was any guide, there’d be a brief stir in the press, a few heads would roll, but nothing would actually change for employees and subcontractors.

    Fast forward one year, however, and things have turned out very differently. The inquiry into Petroleo Brasileiro (widely known as Petrobras) has unearthed a scandal of epic proportions. At least $3bn has been stolen from this state-run firm, which was once the jewel in the crown of the Brazilian economy.

    The investigation into the corruption case – easily the biggest in the country’s history – has implicated a former president, the chairs of both houses of Congress, and the treasurer of the ruling Workers’ party, along with executives from several of the nation’s biggest construction firms. A few have been jailed and the former CEO of Petrobras – Maria das Graças Foster – has resigned.

    But the primary victims so far have been thousands of innocent workers and their families.

    Dorgival Ornelas de Silva, a former scaffolder at the site, is not accused of any wrongdoing. Unlike a growing horde of politicians and executives, he has not had to testify before Congress, give evidence to the police or return tens of millions of dollars squirrelled away in offshore accounts. But he was among the first to be punished as a result of the scandal because his employer, Alumni – a construction company and Petrobras subcontractor – has been implicated in the wrongdoing.

    While legal wrangles continue far above his head, he has not received his R1,970 (£409/$609) monthly salary since November, nor has he received the usual meal coupons or had his social security paid, which means he cannot draw unemployment benefit. Instead he has been left in a pauper’s limbo with not even enough money to return to his family home in the north-east.

    “I’ve been hungry. There have been days with no lunch or breakfast,” he says despondently. “I’m very worried. I have a two-year-old daughter who depends on me. I’m sinking into depression. I’ve lost 6kg since this started.”

    De Silva has another crisis coming. Until now, he has been allowed to stay for free at the Pousado do Trabalhadores, a workers’ hostel that normally charges R20 (£4/$6) per person per day. But the operators told the Guardian they would be closing their doors at the end of the month because so many workers had been laid off and business had ground to a halt.

    “We’ve tried to keep it going, but because of the Petrobras crisis, we can’t pay our bills,” said the hostel administrator Debora Novata. “We’re now selling all the furniture and office equipment so that we can pay off our last eight staff.”

    The owners, who have already had to close two other hostels and lay off 32 employees, are now flying black flags outside the building. They are not alone in their hardship. “For let” and “For sale” signs are evident on several nearby buildings. On the opposite side of the street, the construction site of an 11-storey building has been abandoned. Local shopkeepers say sales have plunged 70% over the past year.

    “The situation is revolting. It’s the innocent workers and their families who are suffering. It makes me really angry. People should go out on the streets and scream and shout at these thieves,” says Novata.

    The “thieves” she is referring to are the 103 politicians and executives who have been indicted on charges of racketeering, bribery and money laundering, as they milked Petrobras for campaign funds and personal gain. As the investigation progresses, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the company – once the biggest and most respected in Latin America – was at the heart of institutionalised corruption dating back to the 1990s. Effectively, it became an ATM for those with power and connections.

    At the top of those implicated in Petrolão, as the scandal has been nicknamed, are some of the wealthiest and most colourful characters in Brazil.

    They include members of President Dilma Rousseff’s inner circle, such as the Workers’ party treasurer, João Vaccari. He was formally charged this week with soliciting donations from Petrobras executives who allegedly siphoned off 3% from construction and supply deals to fill political slush funds for several parties.
    ( continua )

  3. #3
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    (continuação)

    Prosecutors have also named former president of Brazil Fernando Collor de Mello, who was impeached for corruption in 1992, and Eduardo Cunha, an evangelical preacher and president of the lower house. The latter, who reportedly has a cinema inside his mansion in Rio de Janeiro, is accused of blackmailing Mitsui and Samsung over a ship platform deal. Then there is Renan Calheiros, the president of the senate and a member of the one the country’s political dynasties, who has allegedly demanded a more than 3% cut on deals. Scandal is nothing new for Calheiros. In 2007, he was forced to resign as head of the senate after revelations that a construction firm lobbyist was paying child support on his behalf to his former mistress.

    The evidence against them and dozens of others has come from a self-confessed go-between, Alberto Youssef, who channeled money from Petrobras to politicians and businessmen. In Breaking Bad style, he was initially investigated as part of a police money-laundering probe into his car-washing company. (The entire police investigation is now known as “Operação Lava Jato” – Operation Car Wash.) This is not Yousseff’s first brush with the law. He has been arrested nine times for allegedly laundering more than R10bn (£2.1bn/$3.1bn) and spent about a year in prison. His largesse is legendary: he gave a luxury car to the president of Petrobras and bought two apartments and three restaurants for his former mistress, Taiana Camargo, who has since appeared on the cover of Playboy.

    Revealing testimony has also come from Paulo Roberto Costa, the former head of a major Petrobras supplier who has implicated all of the major construction firms in Brazil, including Odebrecht, OAS, Camargo Corrêa and Andrade Gutierrez, for price fixing and kickbacks. He is personally said to have taken a 30% cut in deals and used the money to buy luxury yachts, cars and properties in the names of his wife and children, partly as a way to launder money.

    New details of the lavish lifestyles and alleged crimes of those implicated over the years are splashed almost daily over the front pages of Brazil’s newspapers. One recent report described the fine wines the executives drank at swanky restaurants in Copacabana while they cut deals that robbed Brazilian taxpayers and shareholders of billions of dollars.

    Whether any of these bigwigs goes to prison, however, is quite another matter. In Brazil’s legal system, those with the money for long battles can drag the appeal process out for decades. Politicians, in particular, appear to enjoy impunity. In the previous Congress, roughly a third of the 614 members faced criminal charges ranging from murder and slavery to money laundering and kidnapping.

    President Dilma Rousseff has been cleared by prosecutors, though many Brazilians believe she must have known what was happening because she was president of Petrobras when much of the wrongdoing took place.

    After huge anti-corruption and anti-government protests at the weekend and with her approval ratings at the lowest level of any president in more than two decades – just 13% of respondents rated her government favourably – Rousseff tried to mollify a furious public on Wednesday with a package of bills to criminalise political slush funds and make it easier to seize the assets of people convicted of bribery and fraud.

    “Corruption offends and humiliates workers, reduces the importance of honest work,” Rousseff said in a speech to announce the measures. “Corruption hurts businessmen, hurts workers, hits and offends honest men and women.”

    Fifty-seven politicians and senior officials, from all sides of the political spectrum, have been named in the Petrolão scandal. Putting them on trial would delight a public that is sick of corruption. But the suspects proclaim their innocence, threaten to hold up legislation to strengthen Brazil’s ailing economy, and – in all but a handful of cases – continue to enjoy a life of liberty.

    Meanwhile, the country is paying the price for the scandal. Congress is paralysed. The more than 200 companies involved have lost credit lines. Major construction projects have been halted. Many workers have been laid off.

    “We are in a strange situation where we want things to be cleared up, but at the same time we need our jobs so we kind of wish things had just been left as they are,” said Priscila de Lima, who was fired by Petrobras in January, after eight years at the company. “Everyone in our building was told that there would be several rounds of layoffs. I was among the first to go. They never said it was because of the scandal, but of course it was.”

    Brazil’s economy – and Petrobras itself – had already been shaken by the sharp fall in oil prices had already, but the scandal has made things worse. Petrobras recently announced plans to sell off $14bn in assets this year, which will further add to the pressure on jobs.

    Worst affected is the state of Rio de Janeiro, which is home to the company’s headquarters and many of its biggest facilities. Of the 80,000 lost jobs in Brazil in January, half of them were in this one state.

    Its two hardest-hit cities - Itaboraí and Macaé - together account for 10% of the country’s jobless, according to Mauro Osório, a professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, who expects the nation’s economy to stagnate or slip into recession this year.

    Although the construction companies have been accused of setting up price-fixing cartels, he urged the authorities to preserve them. “It could be a big mistake to break them – not only will we lose a lot of knowledge and technology, but the impact on the population will be worse. We need to be smart about this and punish the executives involved and preserve the businesses.”

    Márcio Salvato, an economist at Ibmec university, said the ripple effects of the scandal are becoming evident in slowing consumption and car sales. He predicts unemployment to rise from the current level of 5% to more than 6.5%, but even that could be optimistic.

    “This is still not over – we don’t know how big the problem really is … The fear is that it could get worse,” he said. “The short-term scenario is bad, the medium-term scenario is bad. There is less income in all of the sectors due to an overflow effect. And the people most impacted by this are those who were already the most vulnerable.”

    That is a lesson that has been painfully learned in Itaboraí in recent months. Residents here have protested with petitions and by blocking the eight-lane bridge linking Rio to the neighbouring city of Niterói. This week, the remaining workers were on strike. But they have not been able to stop the dramatic decline of their community.

    “In November, there were 18,000 workers on the site. Now just a third remain. I have a job, but with so many of my colleagues fired, I am very worried. We all have families,” said Geraldo Santos, a worker with Toyo Setal construction company, as he waited to hear if his union would continue industrial action. “Everyone here depends on the refinery. It’s not just the workers. It’s the people who have invested in apartments that are now empty. It’s the new shopping mall that doesn’t have enough business to open. It’s the popsicle sellers on the streets. This scandal has had a domino affect on all of us.”

    Longtime Itaboraí residents have seen transformation before. A decade ago, much of this was farmland or wasteland. Then, when refinery construction started four years ago, it brought a boom. Thousands of people moved in from across the country, looking for jobs and business opportunities. Now, though, this community threatens to decline even more quickly than it was built.

    José Santano was among the first to work on the refinery project. He considers himself a founder. He is now out of work and dependent on a small breeze-block shop to feed his family. Sales have collapsed as wages have vanished. Monthly profits are now just R500 (£104/$155) per month, less than a quarter of what he made a year ago. He urges the politicians and the executives to find a way out of the Petrobras quagmire as soon as possible.

    “Those responsible have forgotten that there is a whole nation dependent on this industry. They should pay, but we are the ones who are suffering. We are the ones losing our jobs. We are the ones struggling to pay for bread and milk for our children.”

    There is little sign of relief in the foreseeable future. As police and prosecutors continue to dig up evidence of institutional corruption, politicians will bicker, businesses will be forced to cut costs and the workers of Itaboraí will have little choice but to leave or tighten their belts by another notch or two.

    Additional reporting by Shanna Hanbury
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...dilma-rousseff

  4. #4
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    Petrobras scandal project received hundreds of millions from UK taxpayers

    This week marks the one-year anniversary of the sweeping investigation into the Petrobras scandal, known as “Operation Car Wash”.

    Prosecutors – who are probing hundreds of companies and liaising with authorities around the world in an effort to uncover a sprawling network of bribery, money laundering, tax evasion and even drug trafficking – have said their investigation is far from complete.


    Harry Davies

    Friday 20 March 2015 15.30 GMT

    The UK government provided hundreds of millions of pounds worth of support for a controversial energy project in Brazil that is now at the centre of a sprawling corruption scandal engulfing the country’s political and business elite.

    Hundreds of contracts for energy projects, from refineries to oil rigs, have been implicated in the scandal which has seen executives at Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras and many of its contractors charged in connection with alleged bribery and money-laundering.

    The UK has provided significant financial support to numerous Petrobras deals, but most significant is a $52m (£35m) loan underwritten by the UK taxpayer in 2005 which helped finance construction of one of the world’s largest oil platforms.

    The oil rig’s construction was one of the principal projects that generated bribes, according to a police testimony made by a former Petrobras executive turned key prosecution witness.

    Despite the ongoing investigations, Whitehall trade officials are also actively considering giving further financial support to a project operated by two companies embroiled in the scandal.

    Through the UK’s export finance agency (UKEF) and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the government routinely helps finance major oil and gas projects overseas, apparently flying in the face of pledges to withdraw precisely this kind of support.

    Essential financial support for constructing the Petrobras oil platform known as P-52 came from UKEF while UKTI representatives based in Brazil assisted, enabling companies including Rolls Royce to secure the contracts.

    Latest figures show UKEF has provided £1.7bn worth of financial support to fossil fuel projects around the world, from petrochemical plants in Saudi Arabia to pipelines in Russia.

    In Brazil, the UK is helping to open up some of the world’s largest oil discoveries in recent years. The deepwater fields which Petrobras and other multinational oil companies are looking to exploit hold colossal, untapped reserves described by one industry executive as “the new North Sea of the South”.

    The scandal – believed to be the largest in Brazil’s history – has intensified in recent weeks, sparking mass protests across the country. President Dilma Rousseff is facing increased pressure as senior members of her ruling party are under investigation by the supreme court for their alleged role in the scandal.

    Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of bribes were allegedly skimmed from deliberately inflated Petrobras contracts, portions of which were paid to the president’s ruling party. Rousseff has denied knowledge of corruption despite chairing Petrobras’s board when much of the wrongdoing allegedly took place.

    Witnesses have identified a raft of construction and engineering companies which allegedly paid bribes for Petrobras contracts. Two of these companies were significant beneficiaries of the UK’s package of support for the P-52 platform: Rolls Royce and a company majority owned by Singapore shipbuilder Keppel Corporation.

    A former Petrobras executive, whose testimony is at the centre of the investigation, told police that a Keppel representative paid him and others – including Dilma Rousseff’s party – bribes specifically in relation to the P-52 contract.

    This month, just as the scandal began to intensify, UKEF began considering a request to insure a multimillion dollar oil tanker in Brazil despite the fact its co-owners and operators, the Dutch shipbuilder SBM Offshore, and the parent company of its Brazilian joint venture partners, are under investigation.

    On Wednesday SBM signed an agreement to cooperate with Brazilian authorities probing the scandal and last year two former Queiroz Galvão shareholders, the parent of SBM’s consortium partners, were arrested as part of the probe.

    Over the past year, prosecutors in Brazil have heard how hundreds of millions of dollars worth of bribes were allegedly channelled to accounts at Swiss banks including HSBC Suisse, the bank at the at the heart of revelations about tax dodging and money laundering last month.

    Brazilian journalists working with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists have identified members of the Queiroz Galvão family and senior executives at its companies as clients of HSBC Suisse’s Geneva branch.

    Asked by the Guardian whether UKEF was investigating its loans to Petrobras projects, a spokeswoman said the agency “continues to monitor developments with regard to Petrobras and will respond accordingly”. The spokeswoman added officials are undertaking due diligence in relation to insurance for the vessel and no decision has yet been made.

    A spokesman for UKTI, whose representatives in Brazil have assisted UK firms in securing Petrobras contracts, said the agency had nothing to add to the UKEF statement.

    Rolls Royce, who are currently facing separate bribery probes in the US and UK , said they have not received details of the allegations in Brazil. A spokesman added: “We have always been clear that we will not tolerate improper business conduct of any sort and will take all necessary action to ensure compliance.”

    SBM Offshore told the Guardian that an internal investigation had raised “red flags” in Brazil but found no evidence of improper payments to government officials. A spokeswoman emphasised the company is now under a new management regime and said a settlement with Dutch prosecutors “has closed a chapter from the past”.

    A spokeswoman for Keppel said the company strongly refutes allegations made regarding its Brazilian subsidiary, adding its employees comply with “applicable laws and regulations of the countries in which we operate, including anti-bribery laws”.

    Responding to the Guardian’s questions, a spokeswoman for Queiroz Galvão said the group “denies any illicit payments to public officials in order to obtain contracts or benefits”, adding that the company’s contracts and activities adhere to Brazilian law. She said: “Queiroz Galvão states that any assets of company shareholders that could possibly exist in bank accounts outside Brazil have been strictly registered under Brazilian law and informed to legal authorities”.

    This week marks the one-year anniversary of the sweeping investigation into the Petrobras scandal, known as “Operation Car Wash”.

    Prosecutors – who are probing hundreds of companies and liaising with authorities around the world in an effort to uncover a sprawling network of bribery, money laundering, tax evasion and even drug trafficking – have said their investigation is far from complete.
    http://www.theguardian.com/environme...m-uk-taxpayers

  5. #5
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    Pt róba e deixa robá

    No histórico de conduta divulgado nesta sexta-feira pelo Cade, com detalhes do acordo de leniência, o grupo afirmou que foi estabelecido "um sistema de proteção" entre as empresas para "não competirem entre si em licitações relativas a obras da Petrobras".

    O documento registra, ainda, que as empresas investigadas na Lava Jato se "reuniam, ainda que inicialmente de uma maneira não estruturada, com o objetivo de discutir e tentar dividir os pacotes de licitações públicas da Petrobras no Brasil".

    As empreiteiras disseram que o cartel ficou mais bem definido a partir de 2003 ou 2004, com a chegada dos ex-diretores de Engenharia e Serviços da estatal Renato Duque e de Abastecimento Paulo Roberto Costa.

    "A partir de 2003/04, os contatos entre concorrentes tornaram-se mais frequentes e estáveis, e algumas das empresas descritas no presente Histórico de Conduta passaram a se reunir, de forma estável e organizada, no âmbito do "Clube das 9", com o fim específico de combinar preços, condições, vantagens e abstenções entre concorrentes, em licitações públicas realizadas pela Petrobras no mercado de obras de montagem industrial "onshore" no Brasil", registra o documento.

    O clube teria mudado para englobar 16 membros nos anos seguintes, segundo o Cade, operando de maneira "anticompetitiva" devido à necessidade de acomodar mais empresas. "Assim, foi formado o 'Clube das 16', que se manteve de forma estável e organizada até, pelo menos, o final de 2011/início de 2012, voltado à supressão/redução de competitividade nas licitações/contratações realizadas pela Petrobras nas obras de montagem industrial, com prévio acerto do vencedor, preços apresentados, condições, divisões de lotes, abstenções, propostas de cobertura, dentre outros", aponta o histórico do Cade.
    http://veja.abril.com.br/noticia/eco...-dos-anos-1990

  6. #6
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    Xinhua: Swiss return 120 mln USD Petrobras execs stole from Brazil


    Aposto uma mariola que os cumpanhero não esperavam o fogo amigo cerrado dos camaradas. Todo dia é dia da agência de noticias estatal chinesa dar destaque na ladroagem, com direito a ilustrações como a acima. Mas a estorinha é recontada como um caso de corrupção banal, claro.

    RIO DE JANEIRO, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Swiss authorities have returned 120 million U.S. dollars in embezzled funds that corrupt executives at Brazil's state oil giant Petrobras shipped overseas.

    Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber, currently in South America meeting with his Brazilian counterpart, Rodrigo Janot, was in charge of returning the loot, according to a press release from Brazil's Attorney General's Office.

    "We don't tolerate the use of the Swiss financial system for money laundering or corruption," Lauber said, adding some 400 million dollars of ill-gotten Petrobras funds remained frozen in Swiss bank accounts pending ongoing investigations.

    Brazil's biggest company has been mired in scandal since investigators revealed late last year that construction and supply firms had been paying high-level executives kickbacks in exchange for major contracts. The executives, at least two of whom are cooperating with prosecutors in exchange for more lenient sentences, are believed to have funneled some 2.1 billion reals (892 million U.S. dollars) into private accounts between 2004 and 2012
    http://newchina.xinhua.org/archive/2...efc1348c.shtml
    Última edição por 5ms; 20-03-2015 às 23:34.

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