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Brazil police recover computers stolen from Petrobras, arrest 4; 'common crime' blamed

Brazil police recover computers stolen from Petrobras, arrest 4; 'common crime' blamed

The theft of oil company computers containing what the president called "state secrets" turned out to be a case of common robbery, police said Thursday
Police arrested four security guards at the port of Macae, a coastal city in Rio de Janeiro state, and recovered laptops and hard drives that were stolen from Petroleo Brasileiro SA earlier this month, federal police inspector Valdinho Jacinto Caetano said.
The robbery of information about two major oil and gas finds reverberated at the highest levels of the government. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva described the lost data as "state secrets."
The stolen equipment contained data on Brazil's latest deep-water finds: The Tupi field in the Atlantic Ocean, which Petrobras says has much as 8 billion barrels of light crude, and the Jupiter field off the coast of Rio, which could be just as big.
The suspects, employees of a security company hired by Petrobras to guard the port, had been carrying out small thefts since September that went unnoticed until the computers disappeared, Caetano said. They face charges of criminal conspiracy.
"This was a common crime," he added. "They didn't have the slightest idea of what they had" at first.
Caetano said the guards panicked after realizing what they had taken and destroyed some of it, including a hard drive and monitor.
Authorities initially said the equipment was stolen from a container being transported by Houston-based oil services company Halliburton Co. from an offshore rig to the city of Macae, where much of Petrobras' offshore exploration effort is centered.
But on Thursday, police said the theft happened at the port and made no mention of Halliburton.
Some of the equipment was still missing, and Caetano said police were seeking several people who may have received stolen goods from the guards.
At a press conference at federal police headquarters, Caetano justified his earlier characterization of the theft as a case of industrial espionage.
"I said at the beginning, no hypothesis was being ruled out, and in cases like this you have to assume the worst," he said. "Police now consider the case clarified, resolved."


Updated : 2021-07-29 07:13 GMT+08:00