Brazilian police arrest Petrobras, shipyard executives

Brazilian federal police arrested three top executives of state-owned Petrobras on July 10, along with the directors of three shipyards and others for alleged involvement in fixing repair contract bids for at least three offshore oil platforms.

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, July 13 – Brazilian federal police arrested three top executives of state-owned Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) on July 10, along with the directors of three shipyards—Angraporto Offshore, Maua Jurong, and IESA—and others for alleged involvement in fixing repair contract bids for at least three offshore oil platforms.

The senior Petrobras officials include Carlos Alberto Pereira Feitosa, coordinator of Petrobras's bids commission; Carlos Heleno Netto Barbosa, managing director of the company's services unit; and Romulo Miguel de Morais, director of platforms. Arrest warrants also were issued for Carlos Roberto Velasco, a member of the company's bid commission, and for Petrobras employee Jose Antonio Vilanueva.

Angraporto's three main directors, Mauro Luiz Soares Zamprogno, Wladimir Pereira Gomes, and Fernando da Cunha Sterea all were arrested and are being questioned in connection with the allegations of corruption and money laundering.

In addition, agents arrested Simon Clayton, the executive director of TBS International's Brazilian affiliate TBS do Brasil, who was linked to Angraporto, described as being "at the heart" of the irregularities.

Arrest warrants also were issued for one of the shareholders in IESA's shipyard, Valdir Lima Carneiro, as well as for Paulo Jose Freitas de Oliveira and Antonio Carlos Vargas, who served respectively as the corporate and industrial directors of the Maua Jurong yard.

The schemes worked by Petrobras employees passing inside information to Angraporto Offshore to fix bids in its own favor, officials said. Angraporto was created in July 2003 to take up administrative contracts with Petrobras, and won three contracts, valued at $32 million, to refurbish and repair the three oil platforms.

Angraporto oversaw refurbishment of the P-10 oil platform, while IESA and Maua Jurong allegedly worked with Angraporto to promote fraud in the bids involving the other two platforms, the P-14 and P-16.

Brazil's federal police are said to have worked on the case with full support from Petrobras. In a statement, the Brazilian firm said: "At the request of the prosecutor, Petrobras has not taken any position so as not to prejudice the investigations. The company has suspended the employees from their functions and installed a commission to eliminate immediately any possible irregularities."

Altogether, Brazilian federal police arrested 13 people following recent calls for greater accountability by the firm's chief executive officer (OGJ Online, July 12, 2007).

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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