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Deep Float | Petrobras Underwater, Fire

A napkin outline of the Pasadena scheme

A back of the napkin outline of the Pasadena scheme


There is curiosity today as to the identity of a “deep throat” witness in the Petrobras corruption megascandal.

One month after Operation Car Wash was carried out, in the middle of this year, a career public servant with 30 years of service approached federal agents in charge of the task force and denounced Petrobras for ignoring “signs of criminal behavior” and “intentional mismanagement” inside the state-run petroleum giant “in order to divert funds without awakening the suspicions of auditors and inspectors.”

Together with the acquisition of the Pasadena Refinery in the U.S. – the most emblematic of the charges involving the case — the witness named former Mines and Energy minister Edson Lobão as the “godfather” of one of the suspects and [alleged that] current Petrobras CEO Graça Foster was responsible for the nomination of two other senior executives in the foreign trade division, supposedly responsible for a sale of assets to Nigeria that had led to losses for the company.


Was it a note with awful grammar from some General Nigeriano Ubuntu offering you a handsome sum for laundering some huge amount of cash through your account?

This is the Nigerian Third World Corruption scam. Purge it from your e-mail client. A variant is the wealthy but oppressed damsel in distress, for those more responsive to an emotional stimulus, and might be called the Rwandan Woman in Fear for her Life gambit.

During a four-hour closed session held on April 28 in Rio de Janeiro, – the transcript was appended to the Car Wash case file on Tuesday — the «informant», whose name will not be released during continuing investigations, described six cases of alleged criminal misconduct, chief among them the acquisition of  Pasadena, initiated in 2005. The deal, valued at US$ 359 million at the outset, wound up cost US$ 1,2 bilhão, causing Petrobras to suffer a US$ 793 million, according to the federal accounting tribunal (TCU).

[ … translation to come …]

The TCU has already requested the seizure of assets belonging to 11 Petrobras executives. According to the informant, a PMDB operator, Fernando Antonio Falcão Soares, aka Fernando Baiano – jailed in Curitiba (PR) since November 21 — played an active role in moving funds stemming from the Pasadena deal, which was alleged to have been intentionally overestimated.

“One of those present, who was a go-between in the negotiations with Astra Oil, was Fernando Soares, aka  ‘The Big Bahian’”, the source says.

The source is  presented as a civil servant close to retirement, malcontent with the management of the company, which he feels is being “trashed,” although he would not identify himself for fear of reprisals.

The witness cites the fact that the buy contract with the Texan refinery involved “clandestine transfers to members of the scheme” based on the “surplus to market value” of the deal, paid to Astra Oil — a partner of Petrobras in the deal, in which each held 50% of the shares.