Brazilian prosecutors sue Maersk, seek to freeze USD200 million

RIO DE JANEIRO (CNA) – Federal prosecutors in Brazil filed a civil lawsuit against Danish shipping company Maersk and former executives representing the firm for alleged corruption involving shipping contracts with state-run oil firm Petrobras, they said on Friday.

The lawsuit requests that a judge freeze almost BRL1 billion (USD198 million) in assets to make sure funds are available to pay for damages resulting from the alleged scheme.

Prosecutors said there was evidence of bribe payments to Petrobras employees in exchange for privileged information that allowed Maersk to secure shipping contracts between 2006 and 2014. Former employees of Petrobras, formally Petroleo Brasileiro SA, were also included in the lawsuit.

“We take these allegations very seriously and remain committed to cooperating with the authorities during the investigation as well as running our business in compliance with anti-corruption laws in all operating locations,” Maersk said in an emailed statement.

The company said the investigation is ongoing and that it will not comment further on the case.

Petrobras did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The civil lawsuit is the latest chapter in the epic Brazilian corruption investigation known as Car Wash. Initiated in 2014, the probe has implicated politicians and businesspersons in Latin America and beyond, who until recent years were thought untouchable.

Maersk containers at the Port of Santos, Brazil. PHOTO: CNA