SAO PAULO, March 5 (Reuters) - U.S. investment firm Huxley Capital Corp filed a lawsuit on Thursday in a New York court against Brazilian construction group OAS SA, alleging the debt-ladden company is hiding assets from creditors at two valuable subsidiaries.
The defendants in the lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, are OAS and subsidiaries Construtora OAS SA, OAS Investimentos SA, OAS Infraestrutura SA and OAS Engenharia e Construção SA, court documents showed.
Huxley alleged that OAS transferred assets from Construtora OAS and OAS Investimentos to protect them from bondholders. Huxley owns debt issued by two of the subsidiaries, which he said might prove unable to make good on their obligations because of the asset transfers.
The transfers occurred as OAS plunged into “disarray” after the company was named in a corruption probe in Brazil that subsequently cut access to financing, the lawsuit said. An executive at a public relations firm representing OAS did not have an immediate comment.
The New York lawsuit comes as OAS struggles with the impact of a graft and money-laundering scandal afflicting key client Petrobas (Petróleo Brasileiro SA ), which has cut OAS’s revenue flow and access to financing.
Some of Brazil’s largest civil construction companies are facing increased scrutiny and limited access to credit markets after federal prosecutors found that executives at Petrobras negotiated bribes in exchange for building, leasing and other contracts.
In January, a Brazilian judge in São Paulo ordered the seizure of some the shares that OAS SA holds in infrastructure company Investimentos e Participações em Infraestrutura SA, or Invepar. The ruling came at the behest of holders of 160 million reais ($53 million) in local notes.
Early this year, OAS failed to pay interest on $400 million of global bonds and on 100 million reais of debt, and bankers are speculating that a sale of the stake in Invepar could help OAS raise cash to honor some obligations. OAS controls a 25 percent stake in Invepar through unit OAS Infraestrutura. (Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)