Brazilian prosecutors pressed charges on Friday against two people for an alleged scheme to obtain confidential market information from Petrobras to benefit A.P. Moller-Maersk, the world's largest shipping company.
The case stems from an investigation that started in 2014 as part of Brazil's sprawling Car Wash scandal, which has since included suppliers like Maersk and uncovered corruption throughout multiple countries in more than 70 police operations.
A statement released by prosecutors on Friday said a former Maersk executive in Brazil, Viggo Andersen, participated in a scheme that led to at least $31.7 million in losses for Petrobras.
Andersen denies the accusations and will have his innocence proved, his lawyer Paulo Freitas said in a written response.
According to prosecutors, Andersen participated in a scheme to bribe a Petrobras executive, through an intermediary, in exchange for privileged information that would guarantee more business to Maersk.
Andersen allegedly inflated shipping contract prices and transferred the proceeds to Maersk commercial representative Wanderley Gandra, who acted as a financial operator for the scheme, the prosecutors said.
Gandra, according to prosecutors, then sent some of the money to Paulo Roberto Costa, a former Petrobras top executive, who supplied confidential information on the state oil company's shipping needs back to Maersk, the statement said.
Gandra's lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.
Costa was arrested in 2014 and was the first of more than 100 people who entered a plea deal with prosecutors. He has provided investigators with information on multiple Petrobras contracts he oversaw, including with Maersk and other international offshore suppliers.
A judge must still decide whether to start a criminal case against Andersen and Gandra or drop the charges.
The alleged crimes relate to the period 2006 to 2014, the prosecution statement said. Andersen left Maersk in 2017, according to his LinkedIn page.
Maersk said it takes the "allegations very seriously and remains committed to cooperating with the authorities." Petrobras has been collaborating with officials since 2014 and will continue to do so, the company said in a written response.
Last year, Maersk's offices in Brazil were raided by prosecutors.
Representatives of the Danish company met with Brazilian investigators as far back as 2014 in relation to its dealings with Petrobras during the early stages of the corruption investigation.
(Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun and Sabrina Valle, Editing by Tom Brown and Rosalba O'Brien)