Norwegian state oil company Statoil has done business with its troubled Brazilian counterpart, Petrobras, for years. With Petrobras caught in an ever-growing corruption scandal, Statoil’s management has joined other Norwegian companies in probing its past dealings with Petrobras, with an eye to uncovering any evidence of bribery.
Newspaper Klassekampen reported on Wednesday that Statoil, like several other companies in Norway, is worried that it may have been unwittingly dragged into the bribery that reportedly was rampant at Petrobras for many years. Statoil confirmed that it has hired in external corruption investigators to examine the terms of its agreements with Petrobras.
“Statoil isn’t part of the ongoing (international) investigation, and in our examinations we haven’t found any indications that we are involved,” Statoil spokesman Knut Rostad told Klassekampen. “But it’s important for us to continue to monitor the situation.” Rostad called the Petrobras corruption case “extremely serious and complex,” noting that it continues to develop.
Statoil has worked closely with Petrobras and owns 10 of its 12 exploration licenses off Brazil in cooperation with the Brazilian oil company. Several top Petrobras officials have been arrested and some have confessed to being part of a cartel that swindled the company by controlling bidding rounds, and accepting bribes paid by those winning contracts.
Both Norwegian company Akastor and The JJ Ugland Companies have already launched internal investigations into suspicious payments made to Petrobras officials or agents. Sevan Marine of Arendal has been charged with corruption in the case and other Norwegian-controlled firms have dealt with some of the same agents who have been charged with or admitted to accepting bribes.
More than 170 people have already been charged in the Petrobras corruption case, with billions of dollars believed to have been paid in bribes to corrupt Brazilian politicians who appoint Petrobras directors, and to corrupt directors themselves.