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Brazil Judge orders bank accounts of former Petrobras president opened for prosecutors

SAO PAULO – A Brazilian judge has ordered that the bank accounts of a former president of Petrobras, Brazil’s state-run oil company, be made available to prosecutors investigating allegations of overbilling.

Judge Roseli Nalin accepted the request made last month by prosecutors for access to the bank accounts of Jose Sergio Gabrielli, seven other former Petrobras officials and executives of construction company Andrade Gutierrez.

Nalin’s ruling was made public Wednesday.

All face charges of administrative misconduct centring on allegations of overbilling totalling some $13 million on four Petrobras contracts with the builder from 2005-2010.

These charges are related to the widening kickback-corruption scandal that has engulfed Petrobras for months.

Authorities allege that top officials from Petrobras and executives from about 15 of Brazil’s biggest construction firms operated a kickback scheme on contracts worth upward of $4 billion, with money from the inflated contracts eventually being fed back to the governing Workers’ Party and other parties for political campaigns.

The scheme is one of the biggest corruption scandals yet uncovered in Brazil, with authorities saying they’ll seek the return of nearly $400 million from those charged.