3 men in line for Brazilian presidency accused of corruption

AP News
Posted: Aug 31, 2016 12:06 AM
3 men in line for Brazilian presidency accused of corruption

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff have put a spotlight on corruption among Brazil's lawmakers. Watchdog groups say about 60 percent of the 594 legislators in both chambers of Congress are being investigated for wrongdoing or already face corruption charges, including the three men in line to replace Rousseff if she is removed from office.


FIRST IN LINE: Vice President Michel Temer.

In a plea bargain, a former senator who had been a director of state-run oil company Transpetro made a direct link between Temer and the big corruption scandal centered on the main government oil company, Petrobras.

Sergio Machado said Temer asked him to channel $400,000 in Petrobras kickbacks to the 2012 Sao Paulo mayoral candidate of Temer's party. Machado said the payments were made in the form of campaign donations by the construction firm Queiroz Galvao. Temer denies wrongdoing and has not been charged.

Another former senator turned state's witness accused Temer of appointing a lobbyist to distribute bribes from 1997 to 2001 in ethanol deals involving Petrobras. He denies wrongdoing.

Temer is banned from running for office the next eight years because Sao Paulo's electoral court found him guilty of violating campaign spending laws in 2014.


SECOND IN LINE: Speaker of the lower house of Congress, Rodrigo Maia

A key aide to a governor convicted of taking part in a corruption scheme involving overpriced contracts to many companies said Maia received illegal campaign donations. The probe goes to back 2010.

Maia denies wrongdoing and has not been charged.


THIRD IN LINE: Senate President Renan Calheiros.

Calheiros would be acting president if Temer and Maia traveled outside Brazil. The country's Supreme Federal Tribunal has several open investigations against Calheiros in the Petrobras probe.

Former senator and Transpetro boss Sergio Machado said Calheiros received almost $10 million in bribes over 10 years.

A former Petrobras director accused Calheiros of threatening to withhold support unless he was paid off. The same ex-director said Calheiros was paid $1.7 million through a Petrobras lobbyist in a case related to drill ship contracts.

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Calheiros denies wrongdoing.


OUSTED: Former Chamber of Deputies Speaker Eduardo Cunha.

Cunha, who led the impeachment measures against Rousseff, would have been second in line but was removed as speaker by Brazil's highest court while he is investigated in several cases. He could still be stripped of his legislative seat by his colleagues.

Prosecutors accuse Cunha of corruption and money laundering for his role in negotiating contracts for drill ships and say he received an illegal payment of $5 million.

Swiss prosecutors say Cunha held secret bank accounts at Julius Baer bank, with media reports putting their value in December at 2.4 million Swiss francs ($2.5 million). Brazilian investigators say Cunha also has had undeclared accounts in the U.S. since 1990 totaling more than $20 million.

Cunha denies wrongdoing.