BRASILIA, March 27 Brazil's Congress will likely
move forward with a special investigation of state-run oil
company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the Senate's leader
said on Thursday in a move that could impair President Dilma
Rousseff's chances for re-election.
A proposal from opposition lawmakers to investigate the
controversial purchase of a Texas refinery approved in 2006 by
Petrobras, as the company is known, currently has 28 pledges of
support, more than needed for formal approval.
Senate President Renan Calheiros indicated he was not in
favor of the investigation, but said that given the number of
pledges in its favor, "there is nothing else to be done."
"Obviously in an electoral year an investigative committee
hinders more than it helps," Calheiros said.
The committee would investigate Petrobras' alleged
overpayment for the Pasadena refinery. Brazilian auditors have
questioned the $1.2 billion Petrobras paid for it between 2006
and 2012, suggesting the refinery had a market value of less
than $50 million.
Rousseff has not been accused of wrongdoing, but she did
chair Petrobras' board when the purchase was approved. She has
said the decision to buy the refinery was based on a "flawed"
and "incomplete" executive summary.
The investigation is likely to give her opponents in the
campaign ammunition to argue that she has not been a competent
steward of state-run companies or the broader economy.
Rousseff's most likely rivals in the Oct. 5 election,
Senator Aecio Neves of the main opposition party PSDB and
Pernambuco state Governor Eduardo Campos have both called for a
congressional inquiry into the refinery purchase.
A Thursday poll showed support for Rousseff has faltered
amid slow economic growth, high inflation and the scandal,
although she is favored to win a second term.
(Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; Writing by Caroline
Stauffer; Editing by Tom Brown)