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Petrobras employees offered the trading companies lower prices for oil in more than 160 separate operations.
Three commodity traders are being investigated for allegedly contributing to the Car Wash scandal by paying over US$15 million in bribes to Brazil’s state oil company, Petrobras, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Between 2011 and 2014, the Vitol, Glencore, and Trafigura oil trading companies allegedly paid a total of US$31 million in bribes to Petrobras executives and intermediaries, investigators said at a news conference.
“Evidence shows that there was a scheme in which the companies investigated paid bribes to Petrobras employees to obtain ... more advantageous prices and sign contracts more frequently,” prosecutors said in a statement.
Petrobras employees offered the trading companies lower prices for oil and its derivatives as well as storage tanks in more than 160 separate operations then shared in the savings, authorities said.
Top executives of the international companies had “total and unequivocal” knowledge of the graft involving Petroleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras, Brazilian federal officials said.
The details being made public were just the “tip of the iceberg” investigators said, and the latest revelations were the strongest international links yet announced to the sweeping “Car Wash” probe centered on political corruption at Petrobras.
The companies allegedly transferred the bribes through bank accounts in the United States, Britain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Uruguay, among others, raising questions of whether those countries would open investigations.
The Brazilian state oil company, Petrobras, is cooperating with authorities to resolve the corruption scandal which has lead to the conviction of over 130 businessmen and politicians.
In a statement, Petrobras said, “We are the most interested party in seeing all the facts come to light. We will continue adopting all necessary measures to obtain a proper reparation for damages caused (to Petrobras).”