Petrobras board member seeks internal probe of kickback allegations

lunes 8 de septiembre de 2014 15:47 GYT

RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 8 (Reuters) - A board member of Brazil's state-run Petrobras called on Monday for an internal inquiry into allegations the oil company was involved in a vast kickback scheme with dozens of high-profile lawmakers.

Silvio Sinedino, who represents Petrobras' union employees, told Reuters the company must determine the extent of any scheme and said he would press the rest of the board to investigate if its staff have information linked to the allegations.

Details of the alleged scheme were divulged by jailed former Petrobras director Paulo Roberto Costa. The names of those allegedly involved were published over the weekend in Veja magazine, shaking Brazil's already close and unpredictable presidential race one month before elections.

Those involved in the scheme took a 3 percent kickback off the oil firm's contracts with third parties between 2004 and 2012, Estadao newspaper reported. The money apparently swapped hands in order to maintain political alliances between parties.

Preferred shares of Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally known, fell 4 percent in Sao Paulo trading on Monday. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sinedino said he planned to raise the issue at a Petrobras board meeting on Friday to find out what employees may have been involved. So far the scandal has centered on high-profile politicians.

"What about the people inside Petrobras? If Paulo Roberto did something, he didn't do it alone. Who are the other people?," Sinedino said. (Reporting Marta Nogueira; writing by Stephen Eisenhammer)