By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s Corregedoria Geral da União – CGU, (Comptroller General’s Office), filed an inquiry against Netherland’s SBM Offshore NV for bribery allegations, but hopes the company will help the South American country in its investigation involving its oil giant, Petrobras.
“Based on results of the partial report, CGU Minister, Jorge Hage, has requested the opening up of an accountability process against the company [SBM] which could result, in the end, in the inability [by SBM] to have new contracts with Petrobras,” said the CGU in a statement released to the press this week.
The entity says it has reason to believe that the offshore company made payments to Petrobras officials in exchange for contracts advantages. According to the statement, a notice will be sent to SBM in the next few days so that it may present its defense.
If the company cooperates with the bribery investigations, leniency may be given, says the government entity. According to the CGU, the Dutch company has already contacted the agency to talk about an agreement.
This week SBM settled a bribery case in the Dutch courts involving illegal payments to government officials in several countries, including Brazil. With the US$240 million-settlement the company will avoid charges in the Netherlands, but according to Hage, SBM is not necessarily in the clear in Brazil.
“For us this amount is small. Perhaps for the Netherlands it is sufficient…[but] here we work in another level. The value of the contracts here are very high. The contracts SBM gains with Petrobras are more than R$20 billion. They are long-term contracts, of more than twenty years,” said Hage reported Agencia Brasil.
According to the CGU since the investigation began, in April, the entity has conducted interviews, examined documents, e-mails and digital archives as well as travel agendas for Petrobras employees and former directors. SBM Offshore has eight contracts with Petrobras for the lease of oil platforms.