Rousseff mulls Barbosa, Mercadante for Petrobras chairman - source
By Jeferson Ribeiro
BRASILIA Dec 19 (Reuters) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is considering Aloizio Mercadante, her chief of staff, or incoming Planning Minister Nelson Barbosa for the position of chairman of state-controlled oil producer Petróleo Brasileiro SA's board, a source with knowledge of the situation said on Friday.
Rousseff, who on Thursday promised to stamp out graft at the firm and place it under strict corporate governance, needs to appoint a new chairman to replace outgoing Finance Minister Guido Mantega, said the source, who is not allowed to speak on the record because the matter remains under discussion.
Barbosa could be seen as a slight favorite to win the position, as a way to balance power between the planning and the finance ministries, according to the source. Still, Mercadante has become Rousseff's closest aide in the past months - a fact that could catapult him to the position, the source noted.
The appointment of a new chairman for Petrobras, as the company is widely known, comes at a time when the largest state firm in Brazil is grappling with the worst corruption scandal of its 61-year history. In recent years, the chairman of Petrobras, which is majority controlled by the federal government, steered the company's long-term strategy and aligned it with the government's development policy priorities.
Rousseff was chairwoman of Petrobras from 2003 to 2010 when much of the alleged graft and money-laundering scheme took place at the company. She has said previously that she did nothing wrong and has pledged to get to the bottom of the scandal.
The Rio de Janeiro-based company has 10 board members. Apart from Mantega, another three top government officials are on the board.
Prosecutors allege that executives at Petrobras conspired for years to inflate the price of refineries, ships, advertising and other goods and services. They said contractors then kicked back a percentage of the inflated contracts to executives and members of Rousseff's ruling coalition in the form of bribes and campaign contributions. (Writing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal)
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