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Exclusive: Petrobras unit head removed amid bribery allegations

Exclusive: Petrobras unit head removed amid bribery allegations
FILE PHOTO: A logo of the Brazil's state-run Petrobras oil company is seen in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes -
Sergio Moraes(Reuters)
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By Gram Slattery and Ricardo Brito

RIO DE JANEIRO/BRASILIA (Reuters) – The chief executive of a natural gas pipeline unit of Brazilian state oil firm Petrobras <PETR4.SA> has been removed, the company told Reuters on Thursday, after a middleman in a graft scheme implicated him in plea bargain testimony.

The board of Transportadora Brasileira Gasoduto Bolívia-Brasil (TBG), which operates a major natural gas pipeline between Bolivia and Brazil, approved the removal of Ivan de Sá on Wednesday at the request of Petrobras, its majority shareholder, TBG said.

Sá‘s removal came after Reuters asked TBG and parent firm Petrobras on Tuesday about the previously unreported plea bargain testimony. TBG did not give a reason for Sá‘s dismissal.

In court documents, a middleman alleged that Sá helped coordinate a scheme in which Petrobras employees accepted bribes from commodity trading giant Vitol.

In a statement sent through TBG’s press office, Sá strenuously denied the allegations. Vitol has said it has a zero tolerance policy towards corruption and was fully cooperating with authorities.

Petrobras said it had immediately begun internal inquiries after learning about the plea bargain testimony and had removed employees named in the testimony from their positions.

(Reporting by Gram Slattery and Ricardo Brito; Editing by Brad Haynes and Rosalba O’Brien)

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