Paulo Roberto Costa, a former Petrobras executive at the center of an alleged multibillion-US dollar graft scheme involving the state-run oil company, said on Tuesday that similar bribery and kickback schemes are prevalent in many Brazilian public infrastructure projects.
The March arrest of the executive helped uncover a scheme that allegedly used inflated Petrobras contracts for refineries and other projects to funnel money to politicians through leading construction companies.
At a congressional hearing, Costa said that the practice extends beyond Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as Petrobras is formally known.
“What has been reported occurring at Petrobras happens all over Brazil in contracts for roads, railways, ports, airports, hydroelectric dams,” Costa said.
The case is sharpening political divisions in the nation only weeks after Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff won re-election in the nation’s closest vote in decades.
Rousseff, chairwoman of Petrobras’ board of directors from 2003 to 2010, when many of the alleged bribes and kickbacks happened, has denied involvement in the corruption scheme.
Political parties have dominated all high-level appointments at Petrobras, including his own, for decades, Costa said.
Last month, prosecutors began probing other state-run companies after dozens of construction and engineering firm executives were arrested on Nov. 14 in relation to the Petrobras case.
“This scheme is not restricted to Petrobras,” said Carlos Fernando dos Santos Lima, a lead prosecutor in the case.
Lima declined to name companies, but state-run Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA, Latin America’s largest utility, is expected to be the next company to come under scrutiny.
Prosecutors said that as much as 10 billion reais (US$3.9 billion) was skimmed from overpriced contracts with Petrobras and distributed to Rousseff’s Workers’ Party and its allies in Congress.
Costa declined to answer questions about the Petrobras case at Tuesday’s hearing, saying it would break a plea bargain that let him swap jail for house arrest in Rio de Janeiro.
Costa did say that he gave authorities the names of “dozens” of politicians who had received payments in the Petrobras case.
Also on Tuesday, Brazil’s comptroller general’s office said that it is investigating five Petrobras managers and two former managers for their alleged role in a separate bribery case involving Dutch firm SBM Offshore NV.
SBM, the world’s largest oil-platform leaser, is cooperating with Brazil to avoid a ban on future contracts with Petrobras.
NO VIRUS BLUES: A SEMI Taiwan official said that the virus does not slow down the global semiconductor industry’s investment in manufacturing equipment The production value of the nation’s semiconductor industry is expected to grow 16.7 percent this year from last year, outpacing the global industry’s 3.3 percent growth, industry association SEMI said yesterday. That would help Taiwan safeguard its second spot in the global semiconductor market with a production value of more than NT$3 trillion (US$102.73 billion), SEMI Taiwan president Terry Tsao (曹世綸) told a media briefing in Taipei for the Semicon Taiwan trade show beginning today. The global semiconductor industry’s production value is expected to increase to US$426 billion this year, SEMI said. In terms of semiconductor equipment investment, equipment billings from Taiwanese firms
Intel Corp has received licenses from US authorities to continue supplying certain products to Huawei Technologies Co (華為), a company spokesman said yesterday. Washington has been pushing governments around to world to squeeze out Huawei, saying that the telecom giant would hand data to Beijing for espionage. From Monday last week, new curbs have barred US companies from supplying or servicing Huawei. This week, the state-backed China Securities Journal reported that Intel had received permission to supply Huawei. China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯國際), which uses US-origin equipment to make chips for Huawei and other companies, last week confirmed that it had sought
NOTABLE SHIFT: By 2030, 50% of all laptops would be assembled in Southeast Asia, while Taiwan would still mostly focus on research and development, a report said Global laptop and desktop computer supply chains are expected to shift significantly away from China in the next 10 years, a Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC, 產業情報研究所) report said. By 2030, only 40 percent of global laptop production would remain in China, said the report, which was released on Thursday. “The reshuffling of the global supply chain will be one of the most important trends in the next 10 years,” the institute said in the report. “In the long run, key component makers will follow laptop assemblers in moving out of China.” The Taipei-based institute predicted most key component makers
Merck Group Taiwan yesterday said that it plans to invest substantially on expanding its fab in Kaohsiung’s Lujhu District (路竹) to better serve its local customers, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電). The company said it plans to expand its production space by 50 percent in the next five years and its workforce by about 40 percent, Merck Group Taiwan managing director Dick Hsieh (謝志宏) told a media briefing in Taipei. Hsieh declined to disclose investment details, but said that the latest investment would exceed the total amount Merck has invested in Taiwan over the past few years. Those investments would be