Operação Lava Jato, which is Portuguese for
"Operation Car Wash," has already resulted in the arrest of at
least one former executive at Petrobras.
The raid on Petrobras comes amid a series of scandals that has
raised questions about the company's notoriously high costs,
management difficulties and production delays. These problems
have helped transform Petrobras from one of the world's most
sought-after investments into the world's most indebted and
least profitable major oil company.
In 2008, following the discovery of giant offshore oil and gas
resources, Petrobras' market value was nearly $300 billion,
making it one of the world's six biggest companies. It is now
worth less than $90 billion.
Paulo Roberto Costa, the former head of the company's refining
and supply unit, was taken into custody on March 20 as part of
the probe and is being held at a Federal Police jail in Curitiba
in Brazil's southern state of Parana.
Congress has agreed to open an investigation into Petrobras'
$1.2 billion purchase of a Texas refinery, which was started in
2006 and completed in 2012. Also, police and prosecutors in
Europe, the United States and Brazil are looking into
allegations that Dutch oil-ship leaser SBM Offshore SA bribed
company officials to win oil vessel contracts.
Petrobras said an internal investigation of the SBM allegations
found no sign of wrongdoing. It declined to comment on the Texas
refinery investigation pending the completion of its own
Petrobras preferred shares, the company's most-traded class of
stock, were up 3 percent at 16.15 reais in afternoon trading in
Sao Paulo on Friday.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Jeb Blount;
writing by Jeb
Blount; editing by Bernadette Baum; and Peter Galloway)
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