Brazil's Petrobras receives subpoena from the US Securities and Exchange Commission

SAO PAULO – The United States Securities and Exchange Commission has subpoenaed documents in its investigation into corruption allegations at Petrobras, Brazil’s state-run oil giant said.

In a statement late Monday, Petrobras pledged to “co-operate with the United States public authorities with the same dedication it has been co-operating with Brazilian public authorities.”

Petrobras acknowledged the documents requested were “related to an investigation into the company initiated by the SEC” and said the materials would be forwarded to the U.S. market regulator following consultations with the company’s U.S. and Brazilian attorneys. Petrobras had already hired two law firms, one based in Brazil and the other in the U.S., in order “to conduct an independent internal investigation,” the statement said.

Shares of the energy giant are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, which allows the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, to conduct its own investigation into Brazil’s largest company, long considered a crucial motor for the country’s development.

The SEC subpoena is the latest chapter in a saga that has been unfolding for months, with near-daily revelations about the scope and magnitude of the corruption scheme at Petrobras. Authorities allege that top Petrobras executives operated a kickback scheme on contracts involving several billion dollars, with some of the money eventually being fed back to the governing Workers Party and other top parties for political campaigns.

The allegations centre around Brazilian police’s questioning of Alberto Youssef, a convicted black-market money dealer who has admitted to laundering vast sums of money in the scheme, which allegedly stretched back to 2004. Youssef is talking to police in exchange for a lighter sentence.

Earlier this month, police detained more than two dozen people in connection with the investigation, including the former director of services of Petrobras and the heads of several top construction firms here.