The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust has sued Petrobras and its auditors (a Price Waterhouse Cooper affiliate) in a New York court on the basis that the infamous bribes-for-contracts and money-laundering scandal cost the foundation to lose tens of millions of investment dollars.
The trust manages the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – one of the world’s most generous philanthropic organizations with a mission to improve health and reduce poverty globally – and its $41bn in assets.
Microsoft co-founder Gates and his wife Melinda started the Foundation in 2000.
The lawsuit is one of many brought against Petrobras since the web of corruption surrounding the Brazilian state energy company was exposed, sending its stock value plunging.
Petrobras in its own accounts this year estimates it lost around $2bn because of the graft which encompassed Brazilian and overseas contractors as well as politicians and Petrobras’ own executives.
The case depends on proving that the corruption at Petrobras’ end was institutional and that it was deliberately or recklessly overlooked by the auditors. Neither of those will be slam dunks to prove in court.