Thursday, October 28, 2021

Petrobras pays $853.2 million fine to settle bribery and kickback probe

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Brazilian state-controlled oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA said Monday it had completed overhauls to its compliance program, bringing to a close a settlement agreement with U.S. authorities over a vast bribery and kickback scheme in Brazil.

The company, better known as Petrobras, agreed to pay $853.2 million in settlements with U.S. and Brazilian authorities in 2018. The settlements included a nonprosecution agreement with the U.S. Justice Department under which Petrobras agreed to strengthen its compliance program.

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Petrobras on Monday said it had complied with the terms of the agreement, including by improving its integrity program and self-reporting to the Justice Department during the agreement’s three-year term.

“We have finally turned the page, and the end of the DOJ agreement proves that we are living in new times, with our compliance system being strengthened day by day,” Petrobras’s executive director of governance and compliance, Salvador Dahan, said in a statement. “We now have a robust control system and anti-corruption measures that go beyond those required by law.”

A spokesman for the Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Petrobras was at the center of a corruption scandal that erupted in 2014, when Brazilian prosecutors announced an investigation, known as Operation Car Wash, into a cartel of construction companies that had been overbilling Petrobras and using kickbacks to bribe high-level Brazilian politicians and Petrobras executives.

Since 2018, Petrobras has worked to improve the effectiveness of its internal controls and make governance changes, the company said. Its corporate compliance program now includes integrity training, a whistleblower hotline and due diligence processes for the companies with which it does business.

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