The board of Brazilian state-owned oil giant Petrobras has created a special committee whose function will be to oversee an existing independent internal investigation amid widespread bribery allegations.
The committee will consist of three people and serve as a reporting line for independent internal investigation firms Brazil-based Trench, Rossi e Watanabe, U.S-based Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. The three people on the commitee are Ellen Gracie Northfleet, former president of Brazil's Supreme Court; Andreas Pohlmann, former chief compliance officer of Siemens AG; and Petrobras' chief of compliance, risk and governance, a newly-created role to which nobody has been named yet.
"This committee will act independently and will have a direct reporting line with the board of directors," the company said.
The special committee will be tasked with numerous responsibilities, including:
Approving the investigation plan;
Receiving and analyzing the information addressed by the investigation firms;
Assuring the investigation independency, assuring that it isn't prevented or obstructed;
Analyzing, approving and enabling the implementation of the investigation firms' recommendations; and
Communicating and authorizing communication between the investigation firms and authorities, including regulators, regarding the investigation status, its results, as well as measures taken by the company.
Since March, Petrobras has been rocked by allegations made by Paulo Roberto Costa, former head of refining, that executives of the state-owned oil company engaged in a money-laundering and bribery scheme whereby billions of dollars were shaved off the value of contracts in the form of kickbacks paid back to Petrobras executives and politicians.
In the United States, the bribery allegations against Petrobras are also being investigated by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission for potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.