Petrobras ex-oil executive gets 11 years prison for corruption


Brasília (AFP)

A former head of Brazilian oil giant Petrobras was sentenced Wednesday to 11 years prison as part of a vast corruption probe that has tainted much of the country's political and business elite.

Aldemir Bendine, who is also a former head of Banco do Brasil, one of Latin America's largest banks was sentenced for taking a three million reais (about $929,000) bribe from Odebrecht business conglomerate.

The bribes were related to a debt restructuring that Odebrecht Agroindustrial -- one of the branches of the Odebrecht conglomerate -- had with Banco do Brasil, said federal judge Sergio Moro, who issued the sentence.

Bendine, 54, has been under preventive detention since July 2017.

Court documents said that Bendine asked for the payment in 2014, when he was heading the bank, but received it in 2015, when he was already head of Petrobras.

Bendine became Petrobras president with the goal of cleaning shop after a network of corruption was uncovered at the oil giant.

"The last thing that was expected of him was that he would become corrupt, putting the company's reputation at risk again," Moro wrote in his sentence.

"Carrying out a crime in that context was very grave and indicates a high level of guilt," he wrote.

Marcelo Odebrecht, the construction tycoon at the center of swirling corruption scandal, was sentenced to 10 years prison -- but struck a plea bargain and agree to testify in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Under the deal, 77 Odebrecht S.A. executives, including Marcelo Odebrecht, pulled back the curtains on their corruption scheme, which was so extensive that it required its own dedicated corporate department to manage the bribes.

Judge Moro is leading the sprawling corruption probed known as "Car Wash" that has also tainted senior politicians, including President Michel Temer, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and three other ex-presidents.