Brazil’s car wash probe expands to U.S., Greek shipping firms

Brazil’s car wash probe expands to U.S., Greek shipping firms

Brazilian authorities announced two new phases of their Car Wash operation on Friday, ensnaring U.S. asphalt maker Sargeant Marine, six Greek shipping companies and a former Brazilian congressman in the wide-ranging graft probe.

“These operations leave a clear message: foreign firms will not be spared by Car Wash,” Prosecutor Athayde Ribeiro Costa said in a statement.

The statement said former lawmaker Candido Vaccarezza, who had been a Workers Party government leader in the lower house, was arrested over allegations that he received bribes of nearly $500,000 from Sargeant Marine in exchange for helping it win asphalt supply contracts from state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA.

Reuters could not immediately reach representatives for Vaccarezza or Sargeant Marine.

From 2010 to 2013, Florida-based Sargeant Marine signed 12 contracts worth about $180 million with Petrobras, as the oil company is known, because of Vaccarezza’s influence, prosecutors said.

Police issued arrest warrants for an unnamed representative of Sargeant Marine, and for two unidentified people who were Petrobras managers at the time and were accused of involvement.

The Car Wash probe has revealed the country’s largest-ever corruption scheme, uncovering kickbacks from executives to powerful politicians in return for contracts at state-run enterprises, especially Petrobras.

Separately on Friday, Brazilian authorities said they were investigating allegations that Greek shipping companies paid bribes to obtain contracts from Petrobras.

According to prosecutors, Konstantinos Kotronakis, Greece’s honorary consul in Rio de Janeiro, paid bribes and provided insider information to help the shipping companies win more than $500 million worth of contracts from Petrobras from 2009 to 2013.

The bribes, worth 2 percent of the contracts, were paid to civil servants, financial operators and politicians, investigators said.

The companies, which include Olympic Agencies, Perosea Shipping, Tsakos Aegean Dynacom Tankers Management, Galbraiths and Dorian Hellas, could not immediately be reached for comment.   

Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to as the source.