Petrobras Names BNDES Head Coutinho As New Chairman


RIO DE JANEIRO, March 26 (Reuters) - Brazil's state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA on Thursday named Luciano Coutinho, the head of Brazil's state development bank BNDES, as its new chairman.

Coutinho will replace Guido Mantega, a former Brazilian finance minister, who resigned, the company said in a statement.

Coutinho, who has been a board member of Petrobras since 2008, has led BNDES for nearly eight years, overseeing a huge rise in its influence and loan book.

A close ally of President Dilma Rousseff, whom he taught economics, Coutinho is known as a strong supporter of her economic policy.

Traditionally the chairman of Petrobras has been a leading government minister. Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff was chairwoman for seven years before then finance minister Mantega took charge in April 2010.

The widening corruption scandal around the company and growing evidence that company officials appointed by leading politicians conspired with construction and engineering executives to inflate contract prices have renewed calls to make the Petrobras board more professional and less political.

According to police and prosecutors, engineering and construction companies overcharged Petrobras for work with the overage kicked back to Petrobras executives and politicians in the form of bribes and political campaign contributions.

(Reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer, editing by G Crosse)


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