Brazil Cabinet members investigated in corruption probe


Brazil's Supreme Court announced corruption investigations into eight ministers and dozens more top politicians, including Senator Juca, in a sweeping decision that affects nearly one third of embattled President Michel Temer's Cabinet and many of his top allies.

Speculation has been mounting over possible damage to Temer's center-right government.

Odebrecht executives, including former CEO Marcelo Odebrecht, claim they paid so many bribes that the company set up a special department to manage the money, according to the BBC. Among the lawmakers were the speakers of the upper and lower houses.

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.

Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index slipped just 0.5 percent in Wednesday trading, while the local currency was little changed against the US dollar after the Supreme Court released the long-awaited list of new cases.

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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 U.S. $4.15 million). The money went either directly into politicians' pockets or into party campaign slush funds.

— Chief of Staff Eliseu Padilha, suspected of charging companies bribes to finance campaigns of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party in exchange for airport concessions.

Mr Temer, pushing for painful economic reforms as Brazil enters its third year of recession, already faces questions over his legitimacy.

They included three former presidents: Fernando Henrique Cardoso, leftist icon Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his successor Dilma Rousseff.

May 12: With popular anger against corruption growing, Congress votes to suspend Lula's successor, President Dilma Rousseff, for illegally manipulating government accounts.

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The complaints against the politicians expanded the so-called Car Wash probe, which has uncovered massive embezzlement and bribery based on Petrobras.

The investigation into eight ministers, or almost a third of the president's cabinet, poses a serious threat to Temer's efforts to pass austerity reforms that he says are needed to regain investor confidence and lift the economy out of its worst recession on record.

But the probes further discredit Mr Temer's ruling PMDB party, with its senior senator Romero Juca, among those on the list.

The names also include a number of potential presidential candidates for elections in 2018, including Aecio Neves and former foreign minister Jose Serra. While Ms Rousseff was on the Petrobras board of directors from 2003 to 2010, she has never been formally accused of corruption or self-enrichment.

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