Brazil judge targets dozens of politicians for ‘corruption’
Wednesday - 12/04/2017 10:28
A Brazilian judge has revealed the names of dozens of politicians to be investigated over alleged involvement in a huge bribery scandal.
Judge Edson Fachin unveiled his extensive list on Tuesday, after much speculation in the country's media.
It includes almost a third of President Michel Temer's cabinet and Rio de Janeiro's mayor during the Olympics.
The names were given by corrupt former officials from Brazil-based construction giant Odebrecht.
The firm has admitted paying $1bn (£800,000) in bribes.
Judge Fachin's list names a total of eight ministers, including Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes and the president's chief of staff, plus scores of other members of Congress.
Its release is part of a major probe known as Operation Car Wash, which was launched three years ago amid escalating public discontent over political corruption.
The investigation centres on companies that were offered deals with state oil company Petrobras in exchange for bribes, which were funnelled into politicians' pockets and political-party slush funds.
Odebrecht, Latin America's largest construction conglomerate, is one of those companies, and 77 of its executives have entered into plea deals, agreeing to provide information in exchange for more lenient sentences.
The names on Judge Fachin's list have come to light as part of that plea bargain.
The executives say they paid so many bribes that they set up a special department to manage the money.
Although the list spans all major parties, the revelations strike a particular blow to President Temer, who came to power after the previous president was impeached for illegally manipulating government accounts.
Why is this list important? By the BBC's Daniel Gallas in Brazil
With Brazilian politics in complete disarray for the past years amid various corruption scandals, the big question has been who will win next year's presidential elections.
Tuesday's list of politicians who may be subject to new investigations in the Petrobras probe is a huge blow to the forces that were aligning for next year's campaign.
The Brazilian Social Democratic Party - the main opposition party while Brazil was governed by the Workers' Party from 2002 to 2016 - is now tainted before the electorate, with its leading figures having to answer questions about how their previous campaigns were financed.
The Workers' Party remains implicated, as does President Michel Temer's Brazilian Democratic Movement Party.
With virtually all high-profile mainstream politicians under fire, the release of the list may benefit people who portray themselves as "outsiders" in politics, such as Sao Paulo's mayor Joao Doria or environmentalist Marina Silva.
Mr Temer's chief of staff, Eliseu Padilha, is among those named on the list. Mr Padilha has said he will defend himself in court.
President Temer's office has not commented on Judge Fachin's list, but he has vowed to suspend ministers who are charged as a result of the investigations.
The list also names a number of potential presidential candidates for elections in 2018, including Aecio Neves and former foreign minister Jose Serra.