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article imagePetrobras execs get huge fine in refinery buy case

By AFP     Aug 30, 2017 in Business

A Brazilian court Wednesday ordered two former Petrobras officials to pay fines totaling more than $80 million for grossly mishandling the purchase of a Texas refinery.

Brazil's Court of Accounts (TCU) found the semi-public oil giant's former president Sergio Gabrielli and an ex-official of the state company, Nestor Cervero guilty of hurting the country's accounts in the deal.

Petrobras bought 50 percent of the refinery in Pasadena in 2006 from Belgium's Astra Oil for $360 million.

In 2008 it had to buy the other half because of a clause that forced it to do so if there was disagreement between the partners. In all, it paid $1.2 billion, a massive overvaluing in market terms.

Wednesday's ruling can be appealed.

Dozens of senior leaders across Brazil's political spectrum and high-ranking businessmen have been investigated or convicted since the sprawling corruption scandal began in 2014.

The "Lava Jato" or Car Wash investigation has centered on Petrobras, the state-run oil company, where inflated construction contracts were used by business leaders and politicians to siphon off billions of dollars.

Last week, ex-president Fernando Collor was formally charged Tuesday in connection with the massive Petrobras corruption scandal, allegedly taking some nine million dollars

And in July, ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was convicted of graft -- and vowed an appeal -- in the largest scalp yet of the investigation and a stunning blow to the leftist's prospects for political comeback.

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