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Case Code: BENV035
Case Length: 13 Pages 
Period: 2014- 2018      
Pub Date: 2017
Teaching Note: Available
Organization : Petrobras
Industry : Oil and Gas
Countries : Brazil
Themes: Business Environment/Business Ethics/ Corporate Governance
Case Studies  
Business Strategy
Human Resource Management
IT and Systems
Leadership & Entrepreneurship

Petrobras Scandal: Brazil’s Biggest Corruption Case

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In 2016, the Eurasia Group listed Brazil’s political crisis arising out of the Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras) scandal as one of the top 10 global risks as the Brazilian governance failure could have long-term international economic ramifications. Petrobras, once hailed as the most ethical global company and “an extraordinary triumph for Brazil’s achievement,” was caught in a web of corruption that extended to the top echelons of the country’s political establishment. The scandal centered on allegations that contractors, the company’s directors, and politicians collaborated to siphon off billions of dollars from Petrobras into kickbacks.

To unearth the multimillion-dollar kickback scheme at Petrobras, a federal investigation under the code name Operation Car Wash began in Brazil. The investigation revealed that the graft scheme had compounded the problems for Brazil’s already shaky economy and threatened to cause lasting damage to the government and the ruling Workers’ Party (PT). The scandal led to criminal charges being filed against top Petrobras executives and businessmen who were found to be involved. The subsequent investigations implicated Brazil’s leading politicians as well, fueling nationwide outrage against the ruling party coalition....
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