MANY Spanish investors were attracted to purchase shares in Brazilian oil giant Petrobras when shares were launched on the world’s stock exchanges in 2010 to raise $72.8 billion (€63.5 billion) which was the world’s largest ever share launch and made it the fourth largest company by capitalisation in the world.
All appeared to be going well with the company, reported profits grew and it soon overtook Microsoft in value but by late 2013, Merrill Lynch reported that it was now the world’s most indebted company and by late 2014, its debts were estimated by Moodys as having reached $170 billion (€150 billion) and that effectively the company could only go from bad to worse.
In response, an investigation under the code name Operation Car Wash was initiated which suggested that contracts worth up to $22 billion (€19.4 billion) were issued ‘suspiciously’ and the fingers of corruption was observed throughout the company.
Naturally, these problems had an adverse effect on share prices and a number of Spanish investors have lost quite large amounts of money because of the alleged activities of the company and its management.
Now, the Guardia Civil has announced that it has made the first arrest in Spain in connection with this alleged fraud and has taken into custody an individual said to be closely involved in collecting bribes and distributing them to those involved in the alleged fraud.
In an investigation conducted jointly with the National Central Bureau of Interpol in Spain and the Guardia Civil, the individual who is wanted by the Brazilian authorities for money laundering, bribery and membership of a criminal organisation was arrested in Madrid.
Identified by the initials RTD the 43-year-old man, who has joint Brazilian and Spanish nationality, had originally fled to the USA when he was accused of being involved in the case which saw the sum of $50 million (€47 million) diverted to various political parties within Brazil.
When the Spanish authorities became aware of his arrival in Madrid, they arrested him in his hotel, acting on a Brazilian extradition request.