Brazil's president under fire for Petrobras Texas refinery deal

martes 25 de marzo de 2014 17:49 GYT

By Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA, March 25 (Reuters) - Opposition legislators asked Brazil's top prosecutor on Tuesday to investigate President Dilma Rousseff's role in the purchase of a Texas refinery by Brazil's state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA which critics say was way overpriced.

Rousseff, who chaired the company's board at the time, last week said her approval of the 2006 purchase was based on a "flawed" and "incomplete" executive summary.

Mounting criticism of the deal puts her in a difficult position by providing her opponents with ammunition to attack her reputation as a good administrator just six months before she seeks reelection to a second term

A group of lawmakers led by Senator Randolfe Rodrigues of the socialist PSOL party asked Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot to investigate whether Rousseff lied about the refinery deal.

Public prosecutors are already probing the Pasadena Refinery purchase. Investigators at Brazil's TCU audit court have questioned the value Petrobras paid for the asset, which processes about 100,000 barrels of crude a day, including the heavy crude that dominates Petrobras output.

Petrobras, as the company is known, paid $360 million to buy 50 percent of Pasadena Refining System Inc. in 2006 from Belgium's Astra Oil NV, more than eight times what Astra paid for the whole refinery a year earlier. The price rose to $1.18 billion in 2012 after a dispute between Astra and Petrobras led to Petrobras' buyout of Astra's stake.

Rousseff's most likely rivals in the October 5 election, Senator Aecio Neves of the main opposition party PSDB and Pernambuco state governor Eduardo Campos are both calling for a congressional inquiry into the refinery purchase.

While it is unlikely that Rousseff will face prosecution, the investigations could undermine her comfortable lead over the most likely opponents in current opinion polls ahead of the October 5 election.   Continuación...