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Brazil's Rousseff Pledges to Tighten Operations at Petrobras

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff speaks in Brasilia, Dec. 18, 2014.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff vowed Thursday to help implement tough corporate governance standards at state-controlled oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA, which is grappling with the worst corruption scandal in its history.

At a speech in Brasilia, Rousseff urged Brazilians not to lose faith in the company, commonly known as Petrobras and for years the nation's flagship firm. She called on the nation to engage in a "pact to fight corruption," which should lead to a broad reform of Brazil's political system.

Prosecutors allege that executives at Petrobras conspired for years to inflate the price of refineries, ships, advertising, and other goods and services. They also allege contractors then kicked back a percentage of the inflated contracts to executives and members of Rousseff's ruling coalition in the form of bribes and campaign contributions.

"We need to know how to investigate and punish without hurting Petrobras," Rousseff said. "We have to punish people, not destroy companies."