Brazil: Former Petrobras Executive Favored Saipem
Prosecutors in Brazil said on Wednesday former Petrobras executive Renato Duque had unfairly favored Italy's Saipem SpA (SPM.MI) on a contract for an undersea gas pipeline for the Lula and Cernambi offshore subsalt fields.
The accusations came in an emailed summary of charges against Duque, who is on trial over allegations of corruption, and four other people in a price-fixing, bribery and political kickback scheme at Brazil's state-run oil firm.
Prosecutors said Duque accepted bribes from Saipem's representative in exchange for favoring the company in a 2011 auction for the pipeline contract. As director of services at Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Duque was the senior executive responsible for contracting.
Saipem said it had not been notified by the authorities of the allegations.
"Should that happen we will cooperate fully," the company said in an emailed comment.
This is the first time that the Milan-based oil industry services company has been mentioned in the scandal, which prosecutors believe ensnared more than a dozen foreign firms.
Duque's lawyer Alexandre Lopes said the charges were completely unfounded and based on plea bargain testimony that could not be proven.
The 19-kilometer (11.8 mile) pipeline, which can carry 14 million cubic meters (494 million cu. ft.) of natural gas a day, is part of a series of lines that will link offshore fields in the Lula complex with Brazil's coast east of Rio de Janeiro.
The Lula and Cernambi fields are owned 65 percent by Petrobras, which is also the field operator, 25 percent by BG Group (BRGXF) and 10 percent by Portugal's Galp Energia SGPS SA (GLPEY) .
BG is in the process of being acquired by Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RYDAF).
On Tuesday Saipem warned it would make another loss this year as it booked writedowns of 929 million euros ($1 billion) and announced a restructuring plan that includes 8,800 job losses as it cuts costs to counter falling oil prices. (Reporting by Caroline Stauffer, Jeb Blount and Stephen Jewkes