Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil businessmen sentenced to 16 years over Petrobras scandal

Petrobras oil platform in construction near Angra dos Reis Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Petrobras is Brazil's largest company, but share prices have plummeted since the scandal broke out

Two former executives of Brazilian construction giant OAS have been sentenced to 16 years in jail for corruption.

Judge Sergio Moro in Brazil said former OAS president Jose Aldemario Pinheiro and Agenor Medeiros were involved in a major corruption scandal at the state-owned oil company, Petrobras.

Three other former OAS employees have been sentenced to shorter jail terms.

The scandal broke last year, implicating senior politicians.

Pinheiro and Medeiros were found guilty of bribing government officials, money laundering and conspiracy to commit crimes.

OAS lawyer Edward Carvalho says the company will appeal on behalf of its former employees, O Globo newspaper reported.

'Systemic corruption'

Investigators say more than a dozen building companies have paid bribes to corrupt officials and politicians in order to secure lucrative contracts with Petrobras.

Judge Moro said OAS should have come forward when the first allegations emerged last year to explain its involvement.

However, he said, "when corruption is systemic, paying bribes become routine and that is seen as part of the game".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Federal Judge Sergio Moro said OAS should take responsibility for its mistakes and work to rebuild its reputation

Several other businessmen and politicians have been arrested, charged and sentenced over the past year.

Last week, a judge in the southern state of Parana ordered the arrest of Jose Dirceu, one of the founders of the governing Workers Party.

He served as chief of staff during the government of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva between 2003 and 2005.

Jose Dirceu, who was already under house arrest for alleged involvement in another corruption scheme, denies the charges.

He is the most senior member of the Worker's Party to be arrested for alleged links with the Petrobras scandal.

President Dilma Rousseff was president of Petrobras when most of the corruption is alleged to have taken place, but she has not been implicated.

Related Topics

More on this story