Brazil’s Petrobras found suspicious activity in its oil trading business – and failed to stop it – six years before an alleged bribery scandal erupted in that unit in 2018, according to three people with knowledge of the situation and documents seen by Reuters.
Prosecutors in December alleged in public documents that four of the world’s largest commodities trading firms – Vitol SA, Trafigura, Glencore PLC and Mercuria Energy Group – used little-known fuel broker Seaview Shipbroking Ltd or other intermediaries to funnel at least $31 million in bribes to corrupt Petrobras employees.
Brazilian prosecutors investigating the brokerage have focused on Constantinos Kotronakis, a former Greek consul in Rio de Janeiro.
They allege Kotronakis used a Seaview bank account that he controlled in Luxembourg to administer kickbacks related to Petrobras fuel trades.
Kotronakis has not been charged with a crime.
In Brazil, it is not uncommon for prosecutors to allege wrongdoing by suspects in publicly available documents – and cite evidence to that effect – without immediately charging those people.
Prosecutors so far have charged 14 individuals, six of them former Petrobras employees, and have said more charges are coming.
A lawyer for Kotronakis said he was unaware of the Petrobras audit, and that his client was not one of Seaview’s owners.