Rio prosecutors file new case against Petrobras; request freezing of ex-company head's assets



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RIO DE JANEIRO — Officials from Rio de Janeiro public prosecutors' office said Tuesday that they've filed legal action against Brazil's scandal-mired oil company, Petrobras, as well as top builder Andrade Gutierrez.

The new case, a civil suit on charges of "administrative misconduct," opens a new chapter in the corruption scandal that has buffeted the state-run company for months. It centers around allegations of overbilling totaling some $11.6 million on four Petrobras contracts with the builder from 2005-2010.

The prosecutor's office has requested that the bank accounts of former Petrobras president Jose Sergio Gabrielli and seven others be frozen, prosecutor Glaucia Santana said at a news conference.

Gabrielli, who was Petrobras president from 2005-2012, is the highest-ranking company official to be implicated in the widening corruption scandal.

More than two dozen people, including a former director at Petrobras and executives from some of the nation's biggest construction firms, have been charged in a separate, months-long investigation led by public prosecutors in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba.

Authorities there allege top officials from Petrobras operated a kickback scheme on contracts worth upward of $4 billion, with money from the inflated contracts eventually being fed back to the governing Workers' Party and other top parties for political campaigns.

The scheme is proving to be one of Brazil's biggest corruption scandals yet uncovered, with authorizes saying they'll seek the return of nearly $400 million from the accused.

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