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Brazil probe into Petrobras widened to Maersk shipping contracts

Reuters, December 18, 2019

RIO DE JANEIRO/BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian authorities on Wednesday targeted Maersk and other companies for allegedly paying bribes to get an edge in securing shipping contracts with state oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4.SA), in the latest phase of a sprawling graft probe.

Federal prosecutors said in a statement that Denmark’s Maersk, the world’s largest shipping company, was involved in allegedly paying $3.4 million in bribes related to 11 shipping contracts with Petrobras, worth 592 million reais ($141.07 million).

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Maersk was not immediately able to comment when contacted by Reuters. Petrobras said it continues to work with authorities, adding that the company itself is a victim of corruption.

Twelve search and seize warrants were carried out on Wednesday, prosecutors said, in order to further their investigation.

Maersk met with Brazilian investigators here as far back as 2014 in relation to its dealings with Petrobras during the early stages of the corruption investigation.

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This is the 70th phase of the Car Wash investigation that unveiled wide-ranging graft, upending the country’s political establishment by implicating hundreds of officials and executives.

Prosecutors additionally named shipping brokers Tide Maritime and Ferchem as targets in the probe.

A representative of Tide Maritime said the company is unaware of the issue and continues to operate normally, declining further comment. Ferchem could not immediately be reached for comment.

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The three companies are being investigated in relation to contracts with Petrobras totaling more than 5 billion reais ($1.19 billion), prosecutors said.

Companies allegedly bribed Petrobras employees for privileged information to gain an edge in bidding for contracts, federal police said in a statement.

Reporting by Pedro Fonseca and Jake Spring; Additional reporting by Stine Jacobsen in Copenhagen and Stephen Eisenhammer in Sao Paulo; editing by Louise Heavens and Nick Zieminski

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