Asset Recovery Watch

ARW-234
Petrobras / Swiss asset return
Brazil
Unnamed senior executives of Petrobras
Switzerland
Undertaking Recovery Effort; Location of Recovery Effort; Asset Location / Alleged Asset Location
2014
2015, In part
Art.15, Art.16, Art.23
Yes
Criminal forfeiture; Settlement agreement with account holders
MLAT
MLAT
Ongoing, but the Swiss Office of the Attorney General stated that, "The Brazilian bribery scandal affects Switzerland's financial centre and its anti-money-laundering strategy, with result that the OAG has a close interest in contributing fully to the resolution of the scandal through its own investigations. Attorney General Lauber therefore discussed opportunities for mutual support in the ongoing criminal proceedings with his counterpart, Mr Janot." (Source: Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, "Petrobras scandal: USD 120 million released to Brazil, March 18, 2015.)
Completed (in part) and Ongoing (in part)
Assets Returned to Victim or Requesting Jurisdiction (in part), Investigation/Asset Tracing/Asset Restraint (in part)
$680,000,000
$120,000,000 (March 2015)

Petrobras is majority owned by the Federal Government of Brazil. (Source:  Petrobras, Corporate Governance, "Capital Ownership Composition," at http://www.investidorpetrobras.com.br/en/ corporate-governance/capital-ownership, last accessed September 14, 2015.)  

 

In March 2016, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) of Switzerland announced plans to unblock additional US$70 million and return the Petrobras related assets to Brazil:  "So far the OAG has received reports of around 340 suspicious banking relations from the Money Laundering Reporting Office (MROS) in relation to the international corruption affair involving the semi-state-owned Brazilian company Petrobras. In response, the OAG has since April 2014 opened some 60 investigations on suspicion of aggravated money laundering (Art. 305bis Sec. 2 Swiss Criminal Code (SCC)) and in numerous cases on suspicion of bribery of foreign public officials (Art. 322septies SCC). The OAG has requested the handover of documents relating to over 1,000 banking accounts from over 40 banking institutions. In view of the complexity of the investigations, a task force made up of various specialists from the OAG and supported by fedpol is conducting the proceedings. Two of the investigations opened by the OAG have been taken over by the Brazilian authorities and have already led to charges in Brazil. The OAG plans to request the Brazilian authorities to take over other investigations that have been opened in Switzerland.

 

In the course of these 60 investigations, around USD 800 million of assets held in Switzerland have been frozen. In spring 2015, USD 120 million of these assets were unblocked with the consent of the account holders concerned and arrangements made for the assets to be returned to the parties who have incurred related losses.

 

The beneficial owners of the Swiss accounts, for the most part ostensibly held by domiciliary companies, are senior executives of Petrobras and of its suppliers, financial intermediaries, Brazilian politicians and directly or indirectly Brazilian or other foreign companies."  (Source:   Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland media release, "Petrobras affair: Further USD 70 million of frozen assets to be unblocked and returned to Brazil," March 17, 2016.)

In March 2016, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) of Switzerland announced that "So far the OAG has received reports of around 340 suspicious banking relations from the Money Laundering Reporting Office (MROS) in relation to the international corruption affair involving the semi-state-owned Brazilian company Petrobras. In response, the OAG has since April 2014 opened some 60 investigations on suspicion of aggravated money laundering (Art. 305bis Sec. 2 Swiss Criminal Code (SCC)) and in numerous cases on suspicion of bribery of foreign public officials (Art. 322septies SCC). (Source:  Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland media release, "Petrobras affair: Further USD 70 million of frozen assets to be unblocked and returned to Brazil," March 17, 2016.)

Attorney General's Office
Attorney General's Office
Office of the Attorney General (OAG) of Switzerland; Money Laundering Reporting Office
Office of the Attorney General (OAG) of Switzerland