Petrobras denies rumours of Gracas Foster exit

Petrobras on Friday denied that its chief executive may be on the outs amid investigations of corruption involving the company.

Press reports have indicated that an ongoing investigation of a 2006 Petrobras purchase of a refinery in Pasadena, Texas could derail the tenure of chief executive Maria das Gracas Foster.

"Petrobras announces that its board of directors, meeting today, refutes any speculation about the departure of president Maria das Gracas Silva Foster," the company said in a "clarification" issued to the press.

Brazil attorney general Luis Inacio Adams revealed in an interview with the O Globo newspaper Friday that he had blocked an asset freeze of Gracas Foster as part of the investigation by Brazil authorities, a setback that could hurt her legitimacy at the helm of the company, Adams said.

An audit panel on Thursday delayed a decision whether to include Gracas Foster in a list of executives investigated in the scandal.

The probe has chiefly ensnared former downstream director Paulo Roberto Costa who was also arrested earlier this year on charges of involvement in a money-laundering ring of 10 billion reais.

Gracas Foster took over the helm of the company from Jose Sergio Gabrielli in 2012. Since then she has been ranked as among the world's most powerful women.

Foster and others with close ties to Brazil President Dilma Rousseff are also under political pressure as the nation's president has faced waning support ahead of an election later this year.

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