An investigation is underway in Brazil into whether JPMorgan Chase took part in an alleged bribery and money laundering scheme, dating back to 2011, involving state-run oil company Petrobras.
That’s according to an exclusive report by Reuters, which cited court documents and anonymous law enforcement sources. The documents include email messages between alleged co-conspirators, witness testimony, and bank records.
Police are reportedly looking into purchases of roughly 300,000 barrels of Petrobras fuel oil by JPMorgan in 2011. They aim to determine if the banking giant secured shipments of Petrobras fuel at artificially low prices by routing bribe payments to employees on Petrobras’ trading desk through a network of middlemen. They also want to find out if the alleged bribery continued in subsequent years, the sources said.
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Among the court documents is witness testimony from a former Petrobras fuel trader named Rodrigo Berkowitz, who refers to two fuel cargoes that were sold to a JPMorgan unit.
Petrobras said in an email to Reuters it has “zero tolerance in relation to fraud and corruption.” However, US and Brazilian authorities have alleged that some Petrobras traders took bribes from counterparties for more than a decade through 2018. In return, those traders allegedly purchased fuel at inflated prices or sold it at a discount.
In 2020, JPMorgan agreed to pay more than $920 million and admitted wrongdoing to settle US market manipulation probes into its trading of metals futures and Treasury securities.
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