Petrobras investigating SBM Offshore bribery allegations

martes 18 de febrero de 2014 17:58 GYT

RIO DE JANEIRO Feb 18 (Reuters) - State-run oil company Petrobras is investigating allegations that a Dutch ship leaser, SBM Offshore NV, paid bribes to win contracts for floating oil platforms, the Brazilian company's chief executive said on Tuesday.

The internal investigation at Petrobas was launched last week after Brazil and the Rio de Janeiro-based oil company were linked to a 20-month probe of SBM Offshore's commercial activities, CEO Maria das Graças Foster told reporters in Rio de Janeiro.

The most recent allegations, made by an unidentified former employee of SBM Offshore, suggest that Petrobras officials were paid $139 million in bribes through an intermediary.

The Petrobras investigation will last 30 days, Foster said. Last week Brazil's comptroller general asked Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as Petrobras is formally known, for information about its SBM Offshore contracts, the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper reported on Tuesday.

SBM Offshore has been in contact with the U.S. and Dutch justice departments regarding its own investigation since 2012.

SBM Offshore is the world's largest leaser of floating, production, storage and offloading ships, or FPSOs. Eight of its 17 FPSOs are in Brazil, where it also has three onshore bases and a shipyard.

SBM Offshore's FPSOs and two other offshore platforms produce about 1 million barrels of oil a day for clients in Brazil, Canada, the United States and West Africa.

The company is one of the biggest suppliers of oil services to Petrobras, which is in the middle of a $237 billion five-year investment plan, the world's largest corporate investment program.

Last year, SBM Offshore said its investigations found indications of improper payments to government officials in "two countries in Africa, and in one other country outside Africa."   Continuación...