Petrobras this week appointed João Adalberto Elek as its first governance, risk and compliance officer.

His appointment comes at a time when the Brazilian state-owned oil giant faces a widespread investigation over allegations that certain of its executives 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.

As governance, risk and compliance officer, Elek will be responsible for mitigating future risk for the company, including instances of fraud and corruption. He also must ensure compliance with laws, norms, standards, and regulations, including rules of the Comissão de Valores Mobiliários (Securities and Exchange Commission) of Brazil (CVM) and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition to participating in the decision-making processes of the Petrobras' Executive Board, Elek must provide prior favorable opinion as to the governance, risk management, and procedural compliance of the materials that are submitted to this panel for discussion.

He will be one of the members to sit on the Special Committee that will serve as a reporting line to the internal independent investigations conducted by Trench, Rossi e Watanabe and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. The remaining members of the Special Committee are Ellen Gracie Northfleet, former president of Brazil's Supreme Court, and Andreas Pohlmann, former chief compliance officer of Siemens AG, as announced Dec. 23.

Elek will serve a three-year term, which may be renewable, and will only be removed if determined by the board of directors, including the vote of at least one board member elected by the minority, or by the preferred shareholders.

Petrobras' board of directors elected Elek from a list of three pre-selected Brazilian executives through a process conducted by executive-search firm Korn Ferry. He joins Petrobras from Fibria Celulose, where he was chief financial officer. Prior to that, he was CFO and investor relations Officer at telecommunications firm NET. He also held posts at the executive and financial board at the U.S. firm AT&T in Brazil and Latin America, respectively. Elek also has 20 years of experience in Citibank, where he was CFO for retail.