Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Former Maersk executive charged in Petrobras corruption scheme

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Brazilian prosecutors pressed charges on Friday against two people for their alleged role in a scheme to obtain confidential market information from Petrobras to benefit Danish Maersk, the world’s largest shipping company.

The case is a development of an investigation involving suppliers like Maersk that started in 2014 as part of the sprawling Car Wash scandal, which has since uncovered corruption throughout multiple countries in more than 70 police operations.

A statement released by prosecutors on Friday said that Viggo Andersen, a former Maersk executive in Brazil, inflated contract prices with Petrobras. Mr. Andersen would then allegedly transfer a percentage to Maersk commercial representative Wanderley Gandra, who would act as a financial operator for the alleged corruption scheme, the prosecutors said.

Mr. Gandra would then send some of that money to Paulo Roberto Costa, a former Petrobras top executive, who would supply confidential information on the state oil company’s shipping needs back to Maersk, the statement said.

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A judge has yet to decide to drop the prosecution charges or accept them and start a criminal investigation. Mr. Andersen left Maersk in 2017, according to his LinkedIn page.

Maersk and Petrobras did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The alleged crimes relate to the period 2006 to 2014, the statement said.

Mr. Costa was arrested in 2014 and was the first of more than 100 people who entered a plea deal with prosecutors. The former Petrobras executive supplied investigators with information on multiple Petrobras contracts he oversaw and recognized as illicit, including on Maersk and other international offshore suppliers.

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“This new allegation presented in court shows the continued deepening of the investigations,” prosecutor Marcelo Ribeiro said in the statement.

Last year, Maersk’s offices in Brazil were raided by prosecutors. The company said then it would co-operate fully with authorities.

Petrobras said it continues to work with authorities, adding the company itself is a victim of corruption.

Maersk met with Brazilian investigators as far back as 2014 in relation to its dealings with Petrobras during the early stages of the corruption investigation.

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