By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Former Petrobras director, Paulo Roberto Costa, told investigators that he received US$1.5 million from a lobbyist to aid in the purchase of the Pasadena refinery in the United States. The statement was made in September as part of his agreement with authorities for a reduced sentence and made public by the courts on Thursday, January 22nd.

Paulo Roberto Costa, Petrobras director, São Paulo, Brazil News
Former Petrobras director, Paulo Roberto Costa admitted to receiving illicit money, photo by Antonio Cruz/Agencia Brasil.

In his plea-bargaining deal Costa claims he received the visit of lobbyist Fernando Soares, known as Fernando Baiano, and accepted the money in exchange for not hindering the negotiations. The money was deposited in an account in Lichtenstein. The former oil-refining director stated that he believed the money came from Astra Oil, owner of the refinery.

The document also shows that the former director stated that there were rumors that a group headed by Nestor Cerveró, former head of Petrobras’ International Division, had received between US$20-30 million for the transaction.

In 2006 Petrobras paid US$360 million for fifty percent of the refinery, a much higher value than Astra Oil had paid for the complex a year before (US$42.5 million). In July of 2014, the TCU (Federal Courts of Accounts) ordered the return of US$792.3 million to Petrobras accounts due to the loss of corporate wealth the company incurred due to the purchase.

Of the total amount, US$580.4 million will come from the members of Petrobras’ board of directors, who approved the purchase. Among them are former Petrobras President, José Sergio Gabrielli, Paulo Roberto Costa and Nestor Cerveró, who was arrested last week in Rio de Janeiro.


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