SAO PAULO, Sept 5 (Reuters) - A jailed former director of Brazil’s state-run oil firm Petrobras has named dozens of lawmakers and at least one state governor who allegedly received kickbacks off the company’s contracts, the country’s main newspapers reported on Friday.
The revelation of potentially far-reaching corruption at Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally known, threatens to become a major headache for President Dilma Rousseff a month before she seeks re-election in an Oct. 5 vote.
Estado de S. Paulo newspaper said on its online edition that 32 lawmakers were named by Paulo Roberto Costa, the former head of Petrobras’ refining and supply unit who was arrested on March 20 in a police investigation into money laundering called “Operation Car Wash.”
Another paper, Folha de S. Paulo, said Costa named 61 congressmen and senators.
The two papers said one governor was allegedly involved in the scheme although Veja, a weekly news magazine, said three state governors were named by Costa. He is naming collaborators as part of a plea bargain in hopes of getting a lesser sentence, according to Estado de S. Paulo.
None of the media outlets released any of the politicians’ names online and they did not explain how they obtained the information. Veja said it would name the politicians in its print edition on Saturday.
Those involved received a 3 percent kickback off the oil firm’s contracts with third parties while Costa was director, the papers reported.
The nearly $20 billion Abreu e Lima Refinery near the northeastern city of Recife was one of the projects being built under his command.
Rousseff is already facing harsh criticism for the financial decline of Petrobras on her watch. Once seen as the star at the center of Brazil’s rise to become a major oil exporter, Petrobras is today the world’s most indebted oil company and lost half of its market value in Rousseff’s three years in office.
Proof of widespread corruption at the firm would damage her reputation as a competent manager with zero tolerance for unethical behavior in her administration, further undermining approval ratings that have been slipping in opinion polls.
Petrobras did not immediately respond to request for comment. (Reporting by Alexandre Cavarni and Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Ken Wills)