Brazil lawmakers probed for bribes elicited during Petrobras inquiry

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 05, 2016 11:29 AM

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian police raided the homes of two former members of a parliamentary inquiry into graft at state oil company Petrobras on Monday, seeking evidence they extorted money from contractors who wanted to avoid being summoned as witnesses.

The searches were conducted at the homes and offices of former senator Vital do Rego, who chaired the 8-month inquiry in 2014, and Workers Party congressman Marco Maia, a former speaker of the lower chamber who drafted a report to the committee.

The Federal Police said they were investigating allegations the two politicians took "financial contributions" of 5 million reais ($1.45 million) from entrepreneurs to avoid them being subpoenaed.

Vital do Rego is currently a judge on Brazil's Federal Accounts Court. Spokespeople for him and Maia had no immediate comment.

The allegations against them were made in a plea bargain statement by former Workers Party senator Delcidio do Amaral, who was jailed last year for obstructing an investigation into the massive bribery and kickback scandal centered on Petrobras.

The biggest corruption case in Brazilian history, the affair has led to the trials of dozens of contractors and an ongoing investigation into more than 50 sitting members of Congress.

New plea bargains by contractors are expected to implicate many more lawmakers and even members of President Michel Temer's Cabinet.

The parliamentary inquiry led by Vital do Rego and Maia concluded without pointing any fingers at politicians.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Frances Kerry)