RIO DE JANEIRO, (Reuters) – Brazilian prosecutors yesterday charged Aldemir Bendine, the former chief executive of state-controlled oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA, with corruption, alleging he used his position to take bribes from construction firm Odebrecht.
Bendine served as CEO of Petrobras, as the company is formally known, between 2015 and 2016, and was brought in to clean up the firm after its central role in a massive graft scandal that has embroiled politicians and business executives.
Bendine, who also led state-owned lender Banco do Brasil SA from 2009 to 2015, has been in jail since his arrest late last month.
Prosecutors said in a statement that Bendine sought 17 million reais in bribes when he led Banco do Brasil to authorize the rollover of a loan to Odebrecht. However, the company refused to pay him, according to testimony from Odebrecht executives.
Shortly before taking over as head of Petrobras, he demanded and received payments of 3 million reais from Odebrecht so that it could receive unspecified “favorable” treatment from Petrobras, prosecutors said.
In an emailed statement, Bendine’s legal team said he is innocent and that no companies received any special benefits with Petrobras or Banco do Brasil under his leadership.
Bendine could face up to 25 years in prison if tried and convicted on all counts. He is the first former Petrobras CEO to be charged in connection with the kickback scheme that engulfed the company.