| SAO PAULO
SAO PAULO May 8 A Brazilian federal court on
Thursday gave police access to bank records of Brazil's
state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA in a
widening money laundering probe focused on refineries in Brazil
and the United States.
The order from a court in Brazil's southern state of Parana,
gives police access to information on transactions between
Petrobras, as the oil company is known, and companies involved
in the construction of the $20 billion Abreu e Lima Refinery
near Recife, Brazil, the court's press office said.
Those companies include the Camargo Correa and
Sanker construction and engineering groups. The order covers
related transactions from Jan. 1, 2009 to Dec. 31 2013.
Police also gained access to the banking records of Paulo
Roberto Costa, the former head of refining and fuel supply at
Petrobras as well as some members of his immediate family. Costa
was arrested in March as part of the investigation, known as
Operation "Lava Jato", Portuguese for car wash.
In addition to Abreu e Lima, the probe, is looking at 10
billion reais ($4.52 billion) of transactions and links between
a Brazilian currency broker, politicians, Costa and Petrobras'
$1.7 billion purchase of a Pasadena, Texas refinery. The case
has increased pressure on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff as
her campaign for re-election in October heats up.
The scandal has coincided with one of Rousseff's biggest
drops in popularity. Opposition politicians have used it to
question her reputation as a sound manager. She was chairwoman
of Petrobras when the company bought the Texas refinery.
Petrobras and its investments in refineries, offshore oil
exploration and shipyards have been a key plank in Rousseff's
campaign. The company's offices were raided in March by police
who seized documents related to Operation Car Wash.
The 230,000-barrel-a-day Abreu e Lima refinery has seen its
budget nearly quadruple in less than a decade. On a cost per
barrel basis it is one of the most expensive refineries ever
Petrobras did not immediately respond to requests for
comment. Neither did the Camargo Correa and Sanker groups.
($1 = 2.2139)
(Reporting by Roberto Samora; Writing by Jeb Blount in Rio de