SAO PAULO,(Reuters) – Brazilian prosecutors said on Monday they had formally charged four more people, including a former executive at state-run Petrobras , in a widening probe into a kickback scheme that allegedly stole billions of dollars from the oil company.
The prosecutors said Nestor Cervero, the former head of Petrobras’ distribution subsidiary, as well as lobbyist Fernando Soares and Julio Camargo of local contractor Toyo Setal funneled $40 million of kickbacks and accepted $13 million in bribes from Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries.
The bribes helped secure a contract on a $586 million drillship off the coast of Africa and a similar scheme was repeated in the Gulf of Mexico, the prosecutors said in a statement.
Toyo Setal and Samsung Heavy Industries were not immediately available for comment. The companies themselves are not charged with any crimes.
The team of prosecutors in Parana state vowed to expand their investigation last week after accusing 36 people, including executives from six of Brazil’s largest engineering firms, with forming a cartel to funnel kickbacks to the ruling Workers’ Party and its allies.
Sources involved in the landmark investigation have said their probe could include the role of foreign companies in a scandal that has become the biggest crisis yet for President Dilma Rousseff’s government and caused Petrobras to delay the publication of its earnings until next year.
Rousseff, who was the chair of Petrobras’ board of directors from 2003 to 2010, when allegedly more than 10 billion reais ($3.9 billion) were transferred to her Workers’ Party and allies, has denied any knowledge of the scheme or wrongdoing.
Cervero, who Petrobras fired in March, was indicted on charges of corruption and money laundering for alleged crimes committed between 2006 and 2012. The same prosecutors indicted Roberto Costa, another former executive at Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally known, on Thursday.
Cervero was also Petrobras’ international director when it purchased a Pasadena, Texas refinery which critics say it overpaid for.
Prosecutors charged Alberto Youssef, the Parana-based money changer who led investigators to the kickback scheme, with money laundering and said yesterday they are seeking to recover an additional 296 million reais for public coffers.
Sergio Moro, the federal judge in Curitiba, on Friday accepted the first official case involving Costa as well as engineering executives from Engevix and will likely open additional cases presented by prosecutors in coming days.