RIO DE JANEIRO, July 23 (Reuters) - Brazil’s top public prosecutor cleared board members of state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA of wrongdoing in approving the 2006 purchase of an oil refinery in Pasadena, Texas, the prosecutor’s office said Wednesday in a statement.
Board members who approved the sale included chairwoman Dilma Rousseff, who is now president of Brazil.
The purchase of the refinery became the subject of criminal and congressional investigations earlier this year after politicians raised concerns about how the oil company’s investment in the refinery ballooned from $360 million in 2006 to nearly $2 billion today.
The investigations gained momentum after the arrest earlier this year of Paulo Roberto da Costa, former head of refining at Petrobras, as the oil company is known. Da Costa was arrested as part of a money-laundering probe.
Brazil’s federal accounts auditor, the TCU, is holding a session that may point to alleged irregularities in the purchase of the refinery, formally known as Pasadena Refining System Inc. The TCU’s preliminary report on the refinery is expected late on Wednesday afternoon.
The prosecutor, who is based in the capital Brasilia, also directed the federal prosecutor’s office to direct any future investigations into the refinery deal to prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro, where Petrobras is based. (Reporting by Jeb Blount; editing by Matthew Lewis)