RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Brazil’s state-run oil firm Petrobras has fired one executive for alleged corruption and identified about 15 other employees also involved in irregular contracts with suppliers, a source familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.
The partial results of an internal investigation were presented at a board meeting on Friday, where the dismissed executive was identified as part of Petrobras’ engineering department, based at a research center in Rio de Janeiro, the source said on condition of anonymity.
The firing is part of a bribery scandal in which prosecutors allege Petrobras systematically overpaid for work by contractors and that the excess funds were then illegally funneled to political parties, including that of President Dilma Rousseff.
“It is not suspicion of irregularity, it is a step beyond that. They are already objectively held responsible by the investigation,” the source said of the Petrobras employees mentioned in the initial report.
While only one firing had been confirmed, said the source, the other employees involved in irregular contracts were likely to lose their jobs eventually. The values involved in the contracts were not immediately available, the source added.
Petrobras said on Monday it had hired legal consultants to investigate allegations of corruption. The company’s representatives were not immediately available to comment on the initial findings.
Last week Brazilian federal police arrested Renato Duque, Petrobras’ former director of corporate services, and several executives at construction and engineering companies linked to the scandal.
The source said there were around eight employees linked to irregular contract deals at Petrobras’ Abreu e Lima refinery in Pernambuco, and about as many responsible for another refinery in Rio de Janeiro, Comperj. (Reporting by Rodrigo Viga and Marta Nogueira, writing by Stephen Eisenhammer; editing by Andrew Hay)