Brazil: Ruling party treasurer charged in graft probe

AP News
Posted: Mar 16, 2015 10:12 PM
Brazil: Ruling party treasurer charged in graft probe

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian prosecutors on Monday charged the treasurer of the ruling Workers' Party with corruption in connection to a sprawling graft scheme at state-run oil company Petrobras.

Party Treasurer Joao Vaccari Neto was hit with the charges for allegedly disguising over $1.2 million in bribes as campaign contributions between 2008 and 2010.

In an emailed statement, Vaccari's attorney Luiz Flavio Borges D'Urso said he didn't know the details of prosecutor's accusations but that his client denied receiving any bribes or bringing any "illegal" money into the Workers' Party at any time.

Prosecutors allege that Vaccari negotiated bribes with former Petrobras executive Renato Duque, who was also charged on Monday along with another 25 people. In total, more than 100 people so far are facing charges related to the Petrobras case — and prosecutors have said they still have a lot of investigative work to do.

The Petrobras graft scheme is labeled by federal prosecutors as the largest corruption scheme yet uncovered in Brazil.

They allege that at least $800 million in bribes and other illegal funds were paid by the nation's biggest construction and engineering firms to politically appointed Petrobras executives, who not only enriched themselves but funneled the money into the campaign coffers of the Workers' Party and its allies. In return, the companies won lucrative and inflated contracts with the oil firm, Brazil's biggest company.