Brazil attorney general seeks probes of ex-president Silva

AP News
Posted: May 03, 2016 6:57 PM
Brazil attorney general seeks probes of ex-president Silva

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil's Supreme Court said Tuesday that the attorney general has asked it to authorize investigations of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva over alleged involvement in corruption at state oil company Petrobras.

The court's press office said Attorney General Rodrigo Janot also wants to investigate Social Communications Minister Edinho Silva, Political Affairs Minister Ricardo Berzoini and Jaques Wagner, who heads the office of President Dilma Rousseff.

On Monday, Janot asked Brazil's highest court to authorize an investigation of opposition presidential candidate Aecio Neves for alleged involvement in the Petrobras bribery scheme. Neves narrowly lost the 2014 election to Rousseff.

Brazilian media reported that Janot is also targeting top officials in the opposition PMDB party, including party chief Sen. Romero Juca, but the attorney general's office did not confirm that information.

Under Brazilian law, the Supreme Court must give permission for any investigations of high government officials and lawmakers. The court also must authorize any trial of such officials.

Janot based the requests on testimony in a plea bargain by Sen. Delcidio do Amaral, who was ensnared in the sprawling corruption probe.

Amaral's testimony also led Janot to ask the Supreme Court to investigate Eduardo Cunha, the speaker of the lower house, on charges of corruption and money laundering.

Amaral testified that Cunha was involved in a scheme similar to the one at Petrobras in which construction companies paid bribes to state electrical utility Furnas for the awarding of contracts.

In his request to the Supreme Court, Janot said Cunha was "one of the leaders of a criminal organization" that operated at Furnas.

Cunha, who has also been implicated in the Petrobras probe, was the driving force behind a push in the lower house for Rousseff's impeachment.

The impeachment process is now before the Senate, where a 21-member commission will decide whether or not to move forward.

Rousseff's foes allege that her administration violated fiscal laws in a bid to prop up flagging support through government spending. Rousseff says the procedure amounts to an attempted coup.