Bill Gates foundation trust sues Brazil's Petrobras over share losses

Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:53pm EDT
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By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust has sued Brazil's Petrobras (PETR4.SA: Quote) (PBR.N: Quote) to recoup stock losses stemming from a corruption scandal at the state-run oil company.

According to a complaint filed late Thursday night in federal court in Manhattan, Petrobras' "pervasive bribery and money laundering scheme" caused the trust and another plaintiff, WGI Emerging Markets Fund LLC, to lose tens of millions of dollars by investing in the company.

"Indeed, the scandal still seems to escalate by the day - as more guilty pleas, more arrests, and more secret bank accounts are uncovered," the complaint said.

Petrobras, whose formal name is Petroleo Brasileiro SA, is facing a slew of U.S. class-action litigation claiming that years of corruption, including bribery, inflated the value of more than $98 billion of its stock and bonds.

Created in 2000 by Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: Quote) co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, the Gates Foundation focuses on improving health and education and reducing poverty.

Based in Seattle, it is among the world's largest philanthropic organizations, with a $41.3 billion endowment.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N: Quote) Chairman Warren Buffett is a trustee of the foundation.

The trust, which manages the endowment assets, is suing on its own, suggesting it believes it might recover more of its losses on Petrobras' American depositary shares that way.   Continued...

The Petrobras logo is seen in front of the company's headquarters in Sao Paulo April 23, 2015. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker