RIO DE JANEIRO Ė Brazilís Petrobras received on Thursday a new 654-million-reais ($204.4-million) reimbursement for losses incurred due to a massive bribes-for-inflated contracts scheme centered on the state oil company.
ďThis is the biggest reimbursement of public funds in Brazilís history resulting from a criminal investigation,Ē said Deltan Dallagnol, coordinator of the team of prosecutors investigating the scheme involving corrupt Petrobras officials, leading Brazilian construction companies and politicians.
The new sum returned on Thursday brings the total received by Petrobras since the investigation began nearly four years ago to almost 1.5 billion reais (some $461.2 million).
Dallagnol said the funds had been recovered thanks to plea deals prosecutors have signed with several defendants, who agreed to turn stateís evidence and return ill-gotten gains in exchange for sentence reductions.
The money reimbursed thus far is around 13 percent of the roughly 10.8 billion reais ($3.4 billion) to be returned pursuant to 163 plea deals with individual defendants and companies implicated in the diversion of funds, Dallagnol said.
The so-called Car Wash investigation found that Brazilís largest construction and engineering companies illegally formed a cartel to systematically divvy up Petrobras contracts, overcharge the oil company and bribe corrupt executives at the state-controlled firm over the course of more than a decade.
Extra money was diverted to illegally fund election campaigns and to individual politicians who provided cover for the graft, the probe has shown.
Executives of several of Brazilís largest construction companies, numerous former Petrobras officials and politicians accused of taking kickbacks have been imprisoned as a result of the sprawling investigation.