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PwC Brazil to pay $50 million to settle pension fund-led Petrobras fraud case

PricewaterhouseCoopers Brazil, the auditor of Petroleo Brasileiro SA-Petrobras, agreed to pay an additional $50 million to settle a class-action lawsuit led by Universities Superannuation Scheme, London, against the oil producer, the 60 billion ($84.7 billion) pension fund said in a news release Monday.

Investors, including U.K.-based pension fund for academic staff, North Carolina Department of State Treasurer on behalf of the $96.1 billion North Carolina Retirement Systems, Raleigh, and the $16.3 billion Hawaii Employees' Retirement System, Honolulu, who acquired Petrobras securities between Jan. 22, 2010, and July 28, 2015, won a partial $2.95 billion settlement from Petrobras in January.

The largest Brazilian oil producer and parties related to its business were accused of fraud involving billions of dollars in kickbacks, tens of billions of dollars in overstated assets, as well as losses to its investors. The overall settlement is subject to approval.

"Further to the announcement made last month, we continue to lead this securities class action diligently and intensively, and we welcome this important additional step in the litigation process for the class," said Jeremy Hill, group general counsel at USS, in a news release. "We are pleased with the settlement agreement, which has been reached with PwC Brazil, which we believe is in the best interests of the class and concludes an important stage in the action."

The plaintiffs were advised by Pomerantz LLP. "The settlement ensures accountability for those gatekeepers whose duty it is to protect the interests of shareholders, not their corporate clients,"Jeremy Lieberman, co-managing partner of Pomerantz, said in a separate news release.