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Brazil senator to probe sale of Petrobras refinery to Mubadala

A Brazilian senator called on Thursday for a Congressional investigation into the sale of a Petrobras refinery to United Arab Emirates' Mubadala Capital, citing a suspected link to jewelry given to former President Jair Bolsonaro.

The RLAM refinery in the state of Bahia was sold in 2021 to Mubadala's Acelen unit along with its logistical assets for $1.8 B.

Senator Omar Aziz, who chairs the Senate committee on governance and consumer protection, said on Twitter that "any violation of federal interests, any relation to the attempt to smuggle in the jewels, or any act that created advantages in this sale" would be taken to courts to punish those involved.

The senator said his committee would first ask Petrobras, formally known as Petróleo Brasileiro S.A., to provide documents on how the refinery deal was priced.

On Wednesday, Brazil's oil workers union FUP said it had asked public prosecutors to investigate any link between the refinery sale to Bolsonaro's alleged attempt to bring a $3.2-MM gift of jewelry into the country in 2021 without declaring it. Customs officials seized the jewels found in the backpack of a government aide.

The gift by Saudi Arabia's king to Bolsonaro and his wife Michelle Bolsonaro was not from the United Arab Emirates, but the union pointed out that two countries are geographically close and that the former president had said in a recent interview that the gift was settled in the Emirates.

FUP added that the Institute for Strategic Studies in Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (Ineep) estimated the refinery to be worth $3 B to $4 B, about double the price it was sold for.

Reporting by Pedro Fonseca and Marta Nogueira; Editing by Richard Chang

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