Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Brazil’s Giant Corruption Probe Ensnares U.S. Steel Venture

  • Pittsburgh-based steelmaker says it is reviewing the matter
  • U.S. Steel obtained 50% interest in Apolo via 2007 acquisition

Ripples from Brazil’s giant graft probe are reaching Pittsburgh, where U.S. Steel Corp. is looking into accusations that one of its local ventures paid bribes.

Police and prosecutors are investigating pipe supplier Apolo Tubulars SA, owned 50 percent by U.S. Steel, as well as Luxembourg-based Tenaris SA’s Confab unit, for suspected involvement in a scheme to win contracts at state-controlled oil company Petrobras, officials said Tuesday.

The companies allegedly paid about 40 million reais ($11 million) in bribes from 2009 to 2013, prosecutors including Roberson Pozzobon told reporters in Curitiba, Brazil. A recording of the statements was posted on YouTube.

“We are reviewing this matter and are in contact with Apolo,” Sarah Cassella, a spokeswoman for U.S. Steel, said in an e-mailed response. It obtained a 50 percent interest in Apolo via the 2007 acquisition of Lone Star Technologies Inc.

Confab has no evidence that any of its employees made illegal payments to obtain business with Petrobras, and is collaborating with authorities, Tenaris said in an e-mailed response.

Petrobras is at the center of an expanding pay-to-play investigation dubbed Carwash that has seen some of its former executives sent to prison and suppliers go bankrupt.