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Brazil Cabinet members investigated in corruption probe

Brazil Cabinet members investigated in corruption probe

In March, Brazil's top public prosecutor asked the Supreme Court to open 83 investigations into senior politicians based on the Odebrecht testimony, escalating the threat posed by the graft probe to Temer's administration.

BRASILIA, April 11 A Brazilian supreme court justice has ordered investigations into 71 sitting lawmakers and nine ministers in President Michel Temer's cabinet allegedly linked to the country's biggest-ever corruption scandal, Estado de S. Paulo reported on Tuesday.

On Monday, it was announced that Marcelo Odebrecht, the construction company involved in the corruption scandal's lead executive, told the court that he paid Lula 13 million reais (about USA $4.15 million).

"This episode came at a very important juncture for the Temer government - exactly when it is trying (desperately) to approve important reforms in Congress - social security reform, labour legislation reform and a "timid" tax reform, in addition to political reform", said David Fleischer, political scientist at Brasília University, in a note.

They also threaten the stability of Mr Temer's deeply unpopular government just as he struggles to enact austerity measures in a bid to pull Brazil out of a historic recession.

Numerous ministers have said they only received only legal contributions or that they hadn't seen the evidence against them.

— Secretary General of the Presidency Wellington Moreira Franco, suspected of charging companies bribes to finance campaigns of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party in exchange for airport concessions.

The information given by the executives about illicit money given to ex-Presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff will be reviewed by the lower courts.

Mr Temer's ministers of foreign affairs, trade and agriculture will also be investigated as part of the case that has shaken Brazil's political establishment and jolted financial markets.

If the tribunal's decision were to go against him, the election result could be annulled and President Temer could be forced from office.

PSDB party leader Aecio Neves and former foreign minister Jose Serra are cited on Fachin's list, with a possible investigation of Sao Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin referred to a lower court.

Aides close to Temer have told Reuters that it could take months for the ministers to be charged, meaning Padilha and other key cabinet members will most likely stay in their posts long enough to secure the pension reform's passage.

The fourth former president noted in the testimonies, Fernando Collor de Mello, will continue in the Supreme Court, since Collor de Mello is now a senator in Brazil's Congress. The firm has admitted paying nearly a billion euros in bribes to win lucrative deals.


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