By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The new interim government of Brazil announced on Thursday it is replacing the president of Petrobras. Former Energy Minister in the Cardoso Administration, Pedro Parente will replace Aldemir Bendine at the country’s state-run oil giant, the epicenter of a mega corruption scandal which has rocked the nation.
In his first interview as head of Petrobras, Parente told journalists that the new government wants to keep its relationship with the oil giant ‘strictly professional’.
“The government’s relationship with Petrobras is one of a controlling shareholder. Its first concern is with the success of the company. We [interim President, Michel Temer and Parente] have a strictly professional stance on this, geared towards the interests of the company and its shareholders,” he said.
According to Parente, who currently holds the position of chairman of the administrative board of São Paulo’s securities exchange, BM&FBovespa, he only accepted the invitation after being assured that no political appointments would be made to the company’s executive positions. “It was one of the points that helped me decide to take on this mission,” he concluded.
The money-laundering scheme at Petrobras, dubbed Lava Jato (Carwash), was unveiled by federal prosecutors in 2014 and led to a political crisis which rocked the Rousseff administration and the country’s economy, with top officials and Congressional representatives being accused of receiving bribes from large construction and logistics companies in exchange for oil contracts. Aldemir Bendine was appointed in February of 2015 after the resignation of Grace Foster, a personal friend of President Rousseff.
In addition to the scandal, due to the decline in oil prices around the world, the depreciation of the Brazilian currency and payment of interest rates, Petrobras’ net loss for 2015 was R$34.8 billion, the largest in the company’s history.