Brazil's Petrobras receives subpoena from the US Securities and Exchange Commission



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SAO PAULO — The United States Securities and Exchange Commission has subpoenaed documents in its investigation into corruption allegations at Petrobras, Brazil's state-run oil giant said.

In a statement late Monday, Petrobras pledged to "cooperate with the United States public authorities with the same dedication it has been cooperating with Brazilian public authorities."

Petrobras acknowledged the documents requested were "related to an investigation into the company initiated by the SEC" and said the materials would be forwarded to the U.S. market regulator following consultations with the company's U.S. and Brazilian attorneys. Brazil's largest company had already hired two law firms, one local and the other based in the U.S., in order "to conduct an independent internal investigation," the statement said.

Shares of the energy giant are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, which allows the SEC to conduct its own investigation into Brazil's largest company, long considered a crucial motor for the country's development.

The SEC did not immediately respond to an AP request for details about the investigation.

The subpoena is the latest chapter in a saga that has been unfolding for months, with near-daily revelations about the scope and magnitude of the corruption scandal at Petrobras. Authorities allege that top Petrobras executives operated a kickback scheme on contracts involving several billion dollars, with some of the money eventually being fed back to the governing Workers Party and other top parties for political campaigns.

The allegations center around Brazilian police's questioning of Alberto Youssef, a convicted black-market money dealer who has admitted to laundering vast sums of money in the scheme, which allegedly stretched back to 2004. Youssef is talking to police in exchange for a lighter sentence.

Earlier this month, police detained more than two dozen people in connection with the investigation, including the former director of services of Petrobras and the heads of several top construction firms here.

The Federal Prosecutors office in the southern city of Curitiba said Tuesday that a task force has been sent to Switzerland to trace the origin of a secret bank account allegedly kept by detained Petrobras executives. The office did not provide further details.

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