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Petrobras Plans Lawsuits to Recoup $440m in Graft

Source: Reuters 5/8/2015, Location: South America

Brazil's state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA plans to sue five construction and engineering firms and their senior executives to recover about 1.3 billion reais ($440 million) lost in a corruption scandal.

Petrobras has already sued two companies in conjunction with the federal prosecutors' office. It said in a securities filing it will launch three other civil suits but did not say where the suits will be filed.

The lawsuits will be part of a plan to win back at least 6 billion reais ($2 billion) written off against Petrobras' 2014 earnings.

"Petrobras is making all necessary efforts for the total recovery of the losses suffered and also for damages to its reputation," the company's executive director for legal affairs, Taisa Maciel, told the TV network GloboNews, which first reported on the lawsuits earlier.

"In addition to these suits there will be other suits against other companies and other contracts in concert with advancing investigations," she said.

The corruption related write-downs were a result of a price-fixing, bribery and political kickback scheme that drove up the cost of refineries and other assets. Petrobras said the companies formed a cartel to steal from it.

Several construction and engineering firms have said Petrobras officials forced them to make illegal payments to executives and politicians.

Suits seeking 452 million reais against engineering firms Engevix and Mendes Junior and several of their senior executives were filed on April 30 and May 8, Petrobras said.

Lawsuits seeking 826 million reais from Galv?o Engenharia, OAS Engenharia and Camargo Correa and several of their senior executives will be filed in the coming weeks, Petrobras added.

Engevix declined to comment on the matter. Mendes Junior said it had no comment because it has not yet been formally advised of the suit.

Galvao, OAS and Camargo Correa officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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