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Business

Graft scheme costs Petrobras billions

Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras has said it's lost several billion dollars over a kickback scheme involving bribes for inflated contracts. The company is now struggling to regain investor confidence.

Petrobras announced it incurred losses to the tune of $2.1 billion (1.96 billion euros) as a result of an eight-year corruption scheme that saw the firm's executives taking bribes for awarding inflated contracts to suppliers.

The figure was made public as the oil giant released its long-delayed fourth-quarter financial results.

Analysts said the presentation of the audited results was the first step for Petrobras towards regaining investor confidence and access to international credit markets. The debt-plagued Brazilian firm needs a lot of fresh money to develop huge offshore oil fields discovered in recent years.

On the mend

"A set of more favorable policy measures have been taking shape, beginning with a change in the company's leadership," Eurasia Group analysts said in a research note. "The decision to overhaul the company's board of advisers by removing political appointees and replacing them with more business-friendly names has been a good start."

Federal prosecutors said their probe had uncovered the largest corruption scheme ever seen in Brazil's history, with inflated contracts being awarded between 2004 and 2012.

So far, President Dilma Rousseff, who was chairwoman of the Petrobras board during most of the years the scheme was in place, has not been implicated in the corruption case. She has expressed strong support for the investigation and for

holding the guilty accountable

.

hg/ng (AP, Reuters)

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