Excerpted from Valor Econômico.
As you know, Petrobras is taking a political beating, among calls for the CEO to step down and that the president be impeached.
The best argument I have read in its defense so far, if true, is that the chief executive dismissed several managers upon her arrival in office, and that none of the current executives are involved in any misdeeds. So far.
At the center of the general pandemonium is an attractive female subordinate and whistleblower in the mold of Fawn Hall or Mônica Veloso. She is Venina Velosa, a former Petrobras mid-level executive.
Brazilian news organizations love soap opera plots and tabloid headlines. I am reminded of the case of a former Globo journalist who recorded her pillow talk with a senior Senator and then (1) testified against him in a special legislative commission, and then immediately (2) posed for Playboy Brasil.
“Laying bare the truth!”
All the major papers had photos of legislators reading the magazine at their desks on the floor of the House. The whole affair was in startlingly poor taste: the same lawyer that represented the woman in her criminal case — she cut a deal — also negotiated the fee for her appearance in the Grupo Abril clone of the Hugh Hefner classic.
But more on that later, as the Venina angle plays itself out.
The genre of Venina’s tale as we have learned of it so far is melodramatic and sinister, a film noir. From a report by Jornal Hoje
“As I fought against [the misappropriations] , I was threatened and assaulted. Even a gun to my head and threats against my children I had to deal with,” she wrote. According to Valor, Vanina Fonseca was approached in Catete, a neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, and was told “to keep quiet.”
Following, an excerpt from a republished excerpt of Valor’s breaking story shows that it has real soap opera potential.
Petrobras has just issued a statement in response to a report in the daily Valor Economico stating that the CEO of Petrobras had been informed of billion-dollar embezzlment schemes related to Petrobras contracts.
“With respect to stories published in the press with respect to accusations made by Petrobras staffer Venina Velosa, Petrobras reiterates its position, that it took all possible measures to elucidate the events cited by the reporters,” said the note just released this Friday (December 12) evening by the state-owned petroleum company.
The company said “it is not true to say that there was no oversight on the party of company management” in the three cases cited by Venina: the Abreu e Lima Refinery (RNEST); the purchase and sale of a bunker (a consignment of shipping diesel); and irregularities in communications from the supply division.
Petrobras alleges that it conducted internal investigations including one examining the procedures surrounding contracts for the work on RNEST in 2014. “The employee spoke to this commission, on which occasion she had the opportunity but declined to reveal the facts that the press has now begun to report.”
“For some strange reason, the employee held back this material for nearly five years and may now be publicizing the material because she was admonished and punished by the board,” the note said.
According to Petrobras, the employee was mentioned [negatively] in the report …
The company says the result of its internal investigation was forwarded to the federal prosecutor, the capital markets regulator, the federal Comptroller General, and the ongoing parliamentary commission “so that these could take the appropriate measures.”
“The employee was fired from her position as president of Petrobras Singapore Private Limited on 19 November 2014, after threatening superiors with the revelation of alleged wrongdoing unless she was kept on in her executive position,” the Petrobras note continued.
The company also states that it instated internal probes in 2008 and 2009 in a search for signs of irregularities in contracts and payments involving the press office of the supply division, and underscores the fact that the former executive in charge was fired for cause on April 3, 2009, “for failure to respect the company’s hiring practices.”
“She was not let go at that time because her employment contract was suspended while she took medical leave. The official dismissal came in 2013. Results of the analyses were forwarded to the CGU and federal law enforcement, and a law suit is underway in which Petrobras will demand indemnification for harms caused to the company,” by the ex-employee, the company says.
Petrobras explains that she was let go because, involved herself in the irregularities discovered, she attempted to blackmail her superiors.” “The employee was mentioned in the report as responsible for noncompliance considered serious.” (…) She was stripped of her functions as CEO of Petrobras Singapore Private Limited on 19/11/2014, after threatening her superiors with the release of information on supposed irregularities if she were not maintained in an executive position,” the statement said.
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