Brazil Corruption: Eight Cabinet Ministers Named In Petrobras Probe

Brazil has been rocked by dramatic new corruption allegations after a judge ordered investigations into eight cabinet ministers and scores of MPs.

The list includes President Michel Temer’s chief of staff, Rio de Janeiro’s mayor during the Olympics and at least four former presidents.

They were named by employees of construction firm Odebrecht, which has admitted paying $1bn in bribes.

It is part of a three-year probe into graft at state oil company Petrobras.

All 108 people named on the list released by Supreme Court Judge Edson Fachin are suspected of involvement in a massive bribery and embezzlement operation that took money out of Petrobras and funnelled it into politicians’ pockets and political party slush funds.

As the list was made public, residents in the city of Sao Paulo banged pots and pans in protest against political corruption.

The investigations into nearly a third of President Temer’s cabinet pose a threat to his efforts to pass austerity reforms that he says are needed to lift the economy out of recession.

His chief of staff Eliseu Padilha is seen as vital to negotiations to pass important pension reforms. Mr Padilha has said he will defend himself in court.

Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes and Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi are also under investigation, as well as the heads of both houses of Brazil’s Congress and former presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Dilma Rousseff and Fernando Collor de Mello.

The names also include a number of potential presidential candidates for elections in 2018, including Aecio Neves and former foreign minister Jose Serra.

President Temer’s office has not commented on Judge Fachin’s list, but he has vowed to suspend ministers who are charged as a result of the investigations.

The Supreme Court has been analysing plea bargain deals struck with 77 Odebrecht executives, including former CEO Marcelo Odebrecht, who have admitted bribing politicians in return for inflated construction contracts with Petrobras and favourable legislation.

The executives say they paid so many bribes that they set up a special department to manage the money.

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