Petrobras president Aldemir Bendine. Image courtesy of Petrobras/Youtube.

Brazilian prosecutors said last week that the ongoing corruption scandal at Petrobras could be worth just over $5 billion.

According to Reuters, federal prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol said Friday that Petrobras losses tied to corruption will likely reach over $5.3 billion, or about 20 billion reais.

Earlier this year, Petrobras took a $2.05 billion write down for “improperly capitalized additional spending” tied to the scandal along with a $7.15 billion loss for 2014 primarily related to a $14.76 billion impairment charge.

Dallagnol told reports the losses booked in April are “just the tip of the iceberg.”

Prosecutors allege that employees at Petrobras and several engineering firms collaborated to inflate the costs of Petrobras contracts and skim off the excess funds.

The prosecutor added that his estimate includes losses and illicit profits earned by engineering firms through overcharging and price fixing, Reuters said.

Petrobras has not commented on the matter.

Earlier this month, Petrobras said it plans to cut its 2015 investment budget down to $25 billion from its previous $28 billion target.

The state-owned company will also slash its 2016 budget down to $19 billion from $27 billion, a 30 percent cut.

The embattled oil giant confirmed that it’s sticking to its plan to sell up to $15.1 billion worth of assets by the end of 2016, with about $700 million of divestments expected this year.

The company is at the center of a years long corruption probe that has already landed several former executives in jail and forced former  CEO Maria das Gracas Silva Foster to resign earlier this year.

The scandal is now making its way up to the upper echelons of Brazilian politics.

A top aide to former Brazilian president, Jose Dirceu, was arrested in August for allegedly spearheading the creation of a bribery and corruption scheme tied to Petrobras contracts.

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is also being investigated for allegedly using his influence to help Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht win overseas business.

Petrobras, already the most indebted oil company in the world, has seen its bond rating dropped to junk by both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s as a result of the scandal.

The probe has also prompted shareholder lawsuits, including a suit filed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust against Petrobras and its auditor, alleging that corruption caused the trust to lose millions of dollars.


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