Brazil’s Petrobras CEO appointee may face conflict of interest probe

People walk in front of the headquarters of Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobas) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes//File Photo

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RIO DE JANEIRO, April 2 (Reuters) — The prosecutor’s office at Brazil’s federal audit court (TCU) has asked the court to open an investigation into President Jair Bolsonaro’s appointment of Adriano Pires as chief executive of state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro (PETR4.SA), for a possible conflict of interest.

According to a document seen by Reuters and dated March 31, deputy prosecutor Lucas Furtado at the TCU said Pires’s work as consultant for multinational oil companies «strongly indicates the existence of a possible conflict of interest» if he becomes Petrobras CEO.

Pires, the founder of consulting firm Centro Brasileiro de Infraestrutura (CBIE), was tapped this week to replace Joaquim Silva e Luna as head of Petrobras after President Jair Bolsonaro criticized the company’s fuel price policy. read more

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Energy industry analysts hailed the appointment, and Petrobras shares rose the following day. Pires is known as an advocate of privatizing Petrobras and has supported the company’s policy of making domestic fuel prices reflect international price movements.

But Furtado challenged the appointment.

«For over 20 years, he has been providing services to the main oil, gas and energy multinationals,» the document said.

The appointment must still be approved by a shareholders meeting. The next one is scheduled for April 13.

Pires declined to comment on the TCU investigation.

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Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier
Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by David Gregorio

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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