By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The Federal Accounts Court (TCU) in Brazil announced on Wednesday it had found evidence of irregularities in over R$544 million paid for the construction of the Rio de Janeiro Petrochemical Complex (COMPERJ), owned by oil giant, Petrobras.
“There is an entire set of proof of irregular bidding and payment of bribes in which the companies contributing to these irregularities are known,” said the rapporteur of the case, Judge Vital do Rego.
According to Vital do Rego the R$544 million in irregular payments were found in an audit conducted in 2010. Another audit was conducted in 2015, but results are not yet known.
Among the companies being investigated and whose assets were frozen by the court are Queiroz Galvão, Techint Engenharia, Iesa Óleo e Gás, Alusa Engenharia, Skanska Brasil, Promon Engenharia, Engevix Engenharia and Galvão Engenharia.
The freeze on assets will be valid for one year and will include assets considered necessary to guarantee full compensation to Petrobras for possible damages. Some of these have been linked to the mega corruption Operação Lava Jato (Operation Carwash) scandal.
The TCU also announced it will conduct special audits to analyze the contracts, quantify damages and establish liability for overpriced contracts.
According to officials, irregularities were found in the construction of the atmospheric and vacuum distillation units and the delayed coking unit. The figures were verified in two inspections, one in 2010 and another in 2015.
COMPERJ is located in the municipality of Itaboraí, in the eastern part of the state of Rio de Janeiro, and will have the strategic objective to expand Petrobras’ refining capacity to meet the demand for oil products in Brazil.