Image courtesy of Junius /Wikimedia Commons.

Brazil’s Petrobras has reportedly agreed to settle four shareholder lawsuits brought against the firm for alleged losses tied to an ongoing corruption probe.

According to Reuters, the state-owned company’s board approved four settlements with groups of Petrobras shareholders on Friday.

Petrobras told Reuters that it plans to earmark just over $350 million to settle cases with PIMCO Total Return Fund, Dodge & Cox International Stock Fund, Janus Overseas Fund and Al Shams Investments.

PIMCO filed suit against Petrobras last October, alleging that company executives knew about graft and kickback schemes tied to company contracts.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the lawsuit also alleged that the bribery scheme called “the integrity of the company as a whole” into question.

PIMCO’s suit was filed one month after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust filed a lawsuit against Petrobras and its auditor, alleging the scandal caused the trust to lose millions of dollars.

The four settlements would only resolve a small number of the 27 individual lawsuits and one class action case that have been brought against Petrobras in U.S. courts.

Several legal experts told Reuters that the move may signal that Petrobras is ready consider more settlements.

An investor with knowledge of the settlements told Reuters on Monday that the agreements are “a sign that corporate governance has materially improved” at the company.

Brazilian officials have been investigating kickbacks and graft related to Petrobras contracts since 2014.

The investigation, known as Operation Car Wash, has landed several prominent Brazilian businessmen and politicians in jail including former senator Gim Argello and construction tycoon Marcelo Odebrecht.

Earlier this year, Petrobras attorneys asked a U.S. district court judge to throw-out a multi-billion shareholder lawsuit against the company, arguing that company executives were unaware of the corruption schemes.

The lawsuit, filed in December by New York law firm Wolf Popper, alleges that “a culture of corruption” at Petrobras caused the value of some major projects to be overstated, artificially inflating stocks and bonds worth about $98 billion.

In February, A U.S. federal judge in Manhattan ruled that Petrobras must face a class action case filed by investors looking to recover losses tied to the  scandal.

One of plaintiff classes covers Petrobras securities purchased from January 2010 to July 2015 and will be headed by UK-based Universities Superannuation Scheme, according to Reuters.

The second class covers securities that were purchased in 2013 and 2014 and will be led by North Carolina’s treasurer and the Employees’ Retirement System of Hawaii.


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