The CEO of Brazilian oil and gas giant Petrobras is resigning after controversy over dividends

RIO DE JANEIRO — The head of Brazil's state-owned oil and gas giant Petrobras has resigned, the company said in a prepared statement on Wednesday, after months of tensions with the federal government.

Petrobras opted earlier this year not to pay out extraordinary dividends to its shareholders, worsening the relationship between Petrobras CEO Jean Paul Prates and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Lula had defended that decision, calling the market a “voracious dinosaur” after shares plunged following the dividend announcement. The company's shares fell another 7% after Prates' departure.

“Markets and investors already know that the change of command at Petrobras represents more the clumsy interventionism of the (Workers' Party) government in the economy,” Sergio Moro, former justice minister in Jair Bolsonaro's far-right government, said on social media .

Prates, a former senator from the ruling left-wing Workers' Party, will be replaced by engineer and former director of Brazil's oil and gas regulator ANP, Magda Chambriard.

Petrobras named executive director of corporate affairs Clarice Coppetti as interim president.

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