Brazil audit court to investigate Petrobras board members

miércoles 18 de marzo de 2015 20:14 GYT
 

RIO DE JANEIRO, March 18 (Reuters) - Brazil's Federal Audits Court, the TCU, has decided to investigate whether board members mismanaged embattled state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA , the TCU said in a statement.

The investigation, one of many by various agencies focused on Petrobras, was accepted by all the court's members on Wednesday, the statement said.

The court will determine whether board members practiced "acts of ruinous management" or failed "to act with the necessary care."

This is not the first time the auditor has had its eye on Petrobras. Records show that TCU investigators detected widespread over-charging on contracts and irregular tendering practices at major Petrobras projects in 2009.

Alleged overpayment for the Pasadena refinery in Texas was the center of a congressional hearing last year, before a investigation began into allegations of a widespread kickback scheme, known as operation car wash.

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff presided over Petrobras' board of directors between 2003 and 2010, a time of controversial board decisions including the Pasadena purchase.

Critics say Belgium's Astra Oil paid $42.5 million to Crown Oil for Pasadena in 2005, a year before selling half of the facility to Petrobras for $360 million. Petrobras bought the rest of the refinery from Astra in 2012 for $821 million.

Last year, Rousseff said approval of the purchase was based on flawed technical recommendations. She has denied knowledge of corruption at Petrobras, and is not among the 47 politicians Brazil's Supreme Court is investigating over whether they received bribe money allegedly funneled off Petrobras contracts.

But a Reuters review of the 2009 TCU investigation, and interviews with those who conducted it, indicates Rousseff missed opportunities to stop the graft before it erupted into Brazil's largest-ever corruption scandal. (Reporting by Marta Nogueira; Editing by David Gregorio; Writing by Caroline Stauffer)