Losses stemming from corruption at Petrobras said to be underrated

The CEO of Brazil’s state-run oil giant talked about a new report

Published in 10/12/2019 - 13:51 By Léo Rodrigues - Rio de Janeiro

Petrobras CEO Roberto Castello Branco said the estimated financial losses stemming from corruption at the state-controlled oi giant have been underrated. He was referring to the 2014 report on the amounts siphoned off. On the occasion, Petrobras recognized a total of $1.4 billion lost due to illicit payments uncovered by probes under Operation Car Wash.

“I believe that this estimate, however good the criteria used in its calculation may be, does not correspond with the reality. We got approximately [$1 billion] from the Car Wash task force in Curitiba [city] alone,” he said during the opening ceremony of the sixth week of Petrobras in Compliance, which started on Monday (Dec. 9), the date celebrated by the United Nations (UN) as the International Anti-Corruption Day. Of the $1 billion recovered, he pointed out, $180 million went into the state-run company’s coffers this year.

In addition to the underrated measurement, Castello Branco went on to say, the calculations made by the firm does not take into account mismanagement practices aimed at widening the scope of corruption schemes.

“We have several examples: US$15 billion squandered with Comperj [Petrochemical Complex of Rio de Janeiro state]; Torre Pituba, a building in Bahia, where some R$2 billion [$481 million] was spent in the construction of what I refer to as the temple of corruption, as its dimensions were overestimated to meet the needs of the company; and Refinery Abreu de Lima, in Pernambuco, the world’s most expensive, costed nearly US$20 billion—and it turned out to have half the capacity it was designed to have,” Castello Branco declared.

He advocated that corruption should be treated as a heinous crime due to the losses brought on society and the economy, and argued the punishment should be rigorous, including both imprisonment and high pecuniary sanctions.

Castello Branco further stressed that the cases must not be forgotten, so as the mistakes may be prevented in the future. “Corruption has a very negative legacy for the next generation, and tends to corrode the foundations of a health society,” he declared.

*This article was altered at 11 pm on 11/12/2019 to correct money amounts.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Nádia Franco / Nira Foster

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