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BRASILIA, March 21 (Reuters) - Brazil's state-run oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA is investigating practices in its human resources department that could have left the company vulnerable to billions of reais in liabilities, newspaper Valor Economico said on Monday.
Petrobras' head of governance, João Elek, is leading the internal probe after an anonymous report of 11 potentially controversial measures taken by its HR department in recent years, which could have included special treatment to union members at top management levels, Valor said.
Petrobras representatives did not immediately respond to Reuters emails requesting comments.
The HR department has been managed by executives linked to an oil workers union since 2003, when Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, of the Workers' Party, started his first term as president, according to Valor.
The company is at the center of a massive corruption probe that has shaken Brazilian politics over the past two years. Some of Brazil's most powerful executives and politicians are in jail or under investigation for billions of dollars in rigged contracts and kickbacks to parties in the ruling coalition.
The company's internal investigation into the HR practices is looking at potential conflicts of interest in collective salary negotiations held by managers linked to unions. Terms of some agreements may cost Petrobras tens of billions of reais in legal liabilities, according to the report. The newspaper reported that the exact numbers remained unknown. (Reporting by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)