Brazil

Brazil prosecutor aims graft probe at dozens of politicians

Brazil's Attorney General Rodrigo Janot looks on during news conference after a forum titled ''Measures Against Corruption'' at the state attorney general office in Brasilia, Brazil November 24, 2016. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Brazil’s Attorney General Rodrigo Janot looks on during news conference after a forum titled ”Measures Against Corruption” at the state attorney general office in Brasilia, Brazil November 24, 2016.

Brazil’s top public prosecutor asked the Supreme Court to open 83 new investigations into senior politicians on Tuesday, reportedly including five ministers and leading lawmakers, in a dramatic escalation of a graft probe threatening the government.

Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot also requested that the Court send 211 other requests to lower courts based on much-anticipated testimony by dozens of executives of engineering group Odebrecht SA [ODBES.UL] in Brazil’s biggest-ever corruption scandal.

Brazilian newspapers reported that Janot called for an investigation of five members of President Michel Temer’s cabinet, along with his most senior allies in Congress, raising concerns about the stability of his administration and the fate of fiscal reforms cheered by investors.

Temer said last month that he would suspend any cabinet member who is placed under investigation and would dismiss them only if they are indicted for corruption.

Under Brazilian law, cabinet ministers, federal senators and lower house lawmakers can be tried only in the Supreme Court, where cases often take years to come to trial.

Janot could not disclose the names of the politicians and others covered by his request as the Odebrecht testimony and related investigations are still under seal. He asked Supreme Court Justice Edson Fachin to lift the judicial secrecy on the case for the sake of transparency and the public interest.

In a letter to explain the operation, Janot said his actions on Tuesday will remind Brazilians “of the sad reality of a democracy under attack by the corruption and the abuse of political and economical powers.”

President Temer himself has not been directly implicated in illicit party funding and has denied any wrongdoing in the sprawling three-year corruption scandal centered on overpriced contacts at state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA.

Dozens of politicians reportedly named for taking kickbacks in the testimony by Odebrecht…

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