Petrobras corruption probe extends to nuclear industry with arrests of executives

The ever-expanding Petrobras corruption scandal moved into nuclear territory on Tuesday as Brazilian police arrested two executives including one of  Eletrobras Eletronuclear, a division of the state electric utility Eletrobras.

The men arrested were Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva, Eletronuclear’s CEO who is on leave, and Flavio Barra a top executive with engineering firms Andrade Gutierrez.

Investigators are looking into allegations that da Silva received bribes from construction companies including Andrade Gutierrez for contracts to build a nuclear plant at Angra dos Reis, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) west of Rio de Janeiro.

Federal prosecutor said da Silva received 4.5 million reais (US$1.34m) from the engineering firms.

Angra dos Reios would be just the third nuclear plant in Brazil but the project has faced repeated delays and cost overruns which have seen its budget balloon from 7.2bn reais in 2008 to now 14bn reais.

The bribes-for-contracts format follows the pattern of much of the alleged corruption in the Petrobras case.

Andrade Guttierez was already being probed in relation to the Petrobras affair, which has been unspooling for months, revealing huge amounts of bribery and price fixing involving the state-run oil firm and contractors, not to mention politicians.

Eletrobras Eletronuclear is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Eletrobras, which itself is 52%-owned by the Brazilian government.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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