Petrobras services chief José Eduardo Dutra with Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff. Image courtesy of Rede Brasil Atual/Flickr.

Petrobras services chief José Eduardo Dutra took a 90 day leave of absence Friday citing “health reasons” as a corruption probe into the state owned company continues to widen.

Dutra, a former Brazilian senator, served as the company’s CEO from 2002 to 2005 and headed Brazil’s ruling Workers Party from 2010 to 2011.

Antonio Sergio Oliveira will take over for Dutra during his absence, Reuters said.

The corporate-services division handles Petrobras’ major construction and engineering contracts as well as managing tenders for other divisions.

Until last month the division was also charged with handling governance issues including compliance.

Prosecutors allege that employees at Petrobras conspired with engineering and construction companies to inflate the value of deals and skim off excess funds.

Paulo Roberto Costa, a former Petrobras executive who admitted to taking a $636,000 bribe, claims executives were skimming as much as 3 percent off the price of contracts and giving the money to political organizations, including the Worker’s Party.

Former Petrobras CEO Maria das Graças Foster resigned her post along with five other executives last month amid an ongoing corruption probe that has already landed three former executives in jail.

Last month ratings agency Moody’s downgraded Petrobras bonds to a junk rating  citing “increasing concern about corruption investigations and liquidity pressures.”

Brazilian prosecutors have filed five federal lawsuits against six construction companies for $1.55 billion in damages tied to alleged corruption.

The scale of the corruption is still unknown although Brazilian authorities have claimed kickback and bribery schemes could have diverted anywhere between $3.7 billion to $28 billion from the company.






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