Warrants issued in Brazil's Petrobras corruption scandal

AP News
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Posted: Feb 05, 2015 10:45 AM
Warrants issued in Brazil's Petrobras corruption scandal

SAO PAULO (AP) — A warrant compelling the treasurer of Brazil's ruling Workers' Party to testify was among 62 arrest, search and other legal orders police issued Thursday in the investigation into a massive kickback scheme at the state-run oil company Petrobras.

Treasurer Joao Vaccari Neto, who was among those implicated by a former Petrobras director who was arrested last year, was ordered to testify about his knowledge of the scheme.

"We want to obtain information regarding donations he requested, legal or illegal, involving people who had contracts with Petrobras," federal prosecutor Carlos Lima told a news conference.

Shortly after the conference, Vaccari arrived at federal police headquarters in Sao Paulo to be questioned.

Brazilian prosecutors say the kickback scheme involved at least $800 million in bribes and other illegal funds. Some of that money was funneled to the campaign funds of the Workers' Party and its allies, often disguised as legal corporate donations.

Federal prosecutors have said they've recovered about $170 million involved in the scheme, that over 230 businesses of all sizes are being investigated. They say that 86 people so far are facing charges, including several top executives from Brazil's main construction and engineering firms who have been jailed.

The prosecutors are expected to announce charges this month against dozens of politicians, mostly congress members, in connection to the case.

The operation came a day after Petrobras' CEO, Maria das Gracas Foster, and five top directors resigned. After days of rumors, the departures were announced Wednesday morning with a terse, one-sentence statement on the company website.

The statement said the executives would be replaced on Friday.

Also on Thursday, Eduardo Cunha president of the lower house Chamber of Deputies approved the creation of a congressional panel to investigate the kickback scheme.

The panel will investigate the "practice of illicit acts and irregularities at Petrobras between 2005 and 2015," Congress' website said.

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Associated Press writer Jenny Barchfield in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this report.