BRASILIA, Sept 29 Brazil's top prosecutor's
office complained on Thursday that Panama had failed to deliver
banking information requested over a year ago in the massive
corruption investigation surrounding state-controlled oil
company Petróleo Brasileiro SA.
Brazilian prosecutors suspect financial institutions were
used to move offshore millions of dollars in graft money from
the scheme at the company known as Petrobras, and pay bribes to
Brazilian politicians. They said lack of cooperation from Panama
had frustrated their investigations
"Brazilian authorities reiterate the need for a rapid reply
to the requests made to Panama," the office of Brazil's
prosecutor-general said in a statement, adding Panama had so far
failed to comply with international conventions on penal
The statement was issued two days after a meeting with
Panamanian prosecutors who showed up in Brasilia for an
unscheduled meeting where Brazil's requests for bank documents
relating to the Petrobras probe were discussed.
Prosecutors have long criticized Panama for not cooperating
with efforts to investigate corruption practiced by Brazilian
companies in that nation - and in particular the projects that
the country's largest engineering group Odebrecht has worked on
"Panama is our biggest problem, to tell you the truth,"
Carlos Lima, a lead prosecutor on the Petrobras investigation,
told Reuters earlier this year. "There have always been
obstacles to working with them."
Panama's prosecutor general's office said the Brazilians
canceled a meeting with its prosecutors on Thursday. It said in
a statement the Panamanian prosecutors traveled to Brazil
because their Brazilian counterparts had refused to go to Panama
to explain what they needed. The Brazilian statement said
prosecutors had visited Panama twice and provided the details
Panama asked for.
In July, Brazilian police launched an investigation of
Panama's FPB Bank, which allegedly worked with the "Panama
Papers" law firm to transfer abroad money that came in part from
a multibillion-dollar price-fixing and bribery scheme at
Petroleo Brasileiro SA.
Police said FPB Bank was under investigation for "financial
crimes, laundering of assets and transnational criminal
organization" for offering private banking services without the
authorization of Brazil's central bank.
Offshore companies registered by the Panama-based law firm
Mossack Fonseca, the subject of a huge data leak earlier this
year dubbed the Panama Papers, helped FPB Bank get clients'
money out of Brazil illegally, police said at the time.
FPB Bank said in July it had no operations in Brazil and
that accusations it was involved in the corruption scheme were
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle and Brad Brooks in Brazil,
additional reporting by Elida Moreno in Panama City; Editing by