Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil graft is 'widespread', ex-Petrobras director says

Paulo Roberto Costa reacts during a congressional hearing in Brasilia on 2 December, 2014. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Paulo Roberto Costa alleges that kickback schemes are prevalent throughout Brazil

A former director of Brazil's state-run oil company, Petrobras, has told a congressional hearing that kickback schemes are widespread in the country.

Paulo Roberto Costa, who is himself under investigation for his alleged involvement in a kickback scheme at Petrobras, said such practices happened "all over Brazil".

He said corruption was an accepted way of doing business there.

The Petrobras scandal is believed to be one of the biggest in Brazil's history.

Mr Costa was arrested in March.

As part of a plea bargain, he helped uncover a scheme that allegedly used inflated Petrobras contracts to funnel money to parties of the governing coalition.

President Dilma Rousseff, a former Petrobras chair, denies any knowledge of bribery.

'Symbolic' case

Mr Costa said he had given investigators the names of dozens of politicians who received payments in the Petrobras case.

But he said the practice went much further than Petrobras.

"What has been reported occurring at Petrobras happens all over Brazil in contracts for roads, railways, ports, airports, hydroelectric dams," Mr Costa told the congressional committee.

Prosecutors are investigating a number of other state-run companies and police last month arrested more than 20 executives of some of the country's largest construction and engineering firms in connection with the probe.

In the wake of the arrests, President Rousseff called the case "symbolic" and said it could change the country forever.

Petrobras is not only the largest but also one of the most internationally recognised firms in Latin America.

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