MOSCOW (MRC) -- A Brazilian senator called on Thursday for a Congressional investigation into the sale of a Petrobras refinery to United Arab Emirates' Mubadala Capital, citing a suspected link to jewelry given to former President Jair Bolsonaro, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.
The RLAM refinery in the state of Bahia was sold in 2021 to Mubadala's Acelen unit along with its logistical assets for USD1.8 B.
Senator Omar Aziz, who chairs the Senate committee on governance and consumer protection, said on Twitter that "any violation of federal interests, any relation to the attempt to smuggle in the jewels, or any act that created advantages in this sale" would be taken to courts to punish those involved.
The senator said his committee would first ask Petrobras, formally known as Petroleo Brasileiro S.A., to provide documents on how the refinery deal was priced.
On Wednesday, Brazil's oil workers union FUP said it had asked public prosecutors to investigate any link between the refinery sale to Bolsonaro's alleged attempt to bring a USD3.2-MM gift of jewelry into the country in 2021 without declaring it. Customs officials seized the jewels found in the backpack of a government aide.
The gift by Saudi Arabia's king to Bolsonaro and his wife Michelle Bolsonaro was not from the United Arab Emirates, but the union pointed out that two countries are geographically close and that the former president had said in a recent interview that the gift was settled in the Emirates.
FUP added that the Institute for Strategic Studies in Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (Ineep) estimated the refinery to be worth USD3 B to USD4 B, about double the price it was sold for.
We remind, Petrobras said on Tuesday it will reduce gasoline and diesel prices at its refineries from Wednesday, a move that will likely offset the resumption of federal taxes levied on fuels. Shares in the company dropped sharply after the news, trading down more than 3% by midday and making Petrobras one of the biggest fallers on the local benchmark stock index Bovespa , which slipped 0.5%. The price cut comes as the government announced on Monday it was set to resume the collection of taxes on fuels, ending a waiver set by former President Jair Bolsonaro last year - a measure that will boost government revenues but is seen as upsetting the middle class.