SAO PAULO, March 13 Brazil's federal police will
investigate allegations that officials from state-run oil
company Petroleo Brasiliero SA accepted bribes from
Dutch ship leaser SBM Offshore NV, newspaper Folha de
S.Paulo reported on Thursday.
Petrobras, as the company is known, last month began an
internal investigation of the matter after an unidentified
former employee at SBM Offshore alleged that Petrobras officials
were paid $139 million in bribes through an intermediary over
contracts for floating oil platforms.
A press officer at the federal police in Brasilia declined
to comment on the Folha report, which comes two days after
Brazil's lower house of Congress voted to set up a special
committee to monitor the Petrobras investigation.
A Petrobras spokeswoman said in an email the company would
wait until its internal investigation had been concluded to
comment on the matter.
SBM Offshore has previously said it has been in contact with
the U.S. and Dutch justice departments regarding its own
investigation into bribery payments to officials in various
countries since 2012.
The Folha article, which did not name any sources, also said
police are investigating possible tax evasion in Petrobras'
purchase of a refinery in Pasadena, Texas, something public
prosecutors have been looking into since June.
The allegations come at a delicate time for Petrobras, which
is tackling high debt levels due in part to the government's
practice of keeping domestic fuel prices low to curb inflation,
forcing the company to import gasoline at a loss.