HomeNewsBriefBrazil Interim President Implicated in Petrobras Corruption Scandal
BRIEF

Brazil Interim President Implicated in Petrobras Corruption Scandal

BRAZIL / 16 JUN 2016 BY MIKE LASUSA EN

A key witness in Brazil's wide-ranging Petrobras corruption scandal has accused the country's interim president of soliciting illegal campaign contributions for a fellow politician, adding to allegations of corruption already swirling around the acting leader. 

Brazilian media outlets reported on June 15 that Sergio Machado, the former director of Transpetro -- a subsidiary of state-run oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) -- had accused interim President Michel Temer of negotiating an illicit campaign contribution of 1.5 million reais (about $430,000) for a candidate in the 2012 São Paulo mayoral election.

The candidate, Gabriel Chalita, belonged to the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro - PMDB) -- the same party as Temer, who was then serving as Brazil's vice president. Chalita's mayoral campaign was ultimately unsuccessful.

Machado made the accusations as part of a plea agreement related to investigations into corruption at Petrobras, known as "Operation Car Wash," whereby energy executives used inflated public works contracts to pay bribes that were often funneled into political campaigns. (The plea bargain documents are available in PDF format here and here, courtesy of O Globo.)

Machado said the campaign contribution for Chalita was made legally through engineering group Queiroz Galvao, but resulted from kickbacks on contracts with Petrobras.

Temer has denied any wrongdoing, describing Machado's allegations as "mendacious and criminal." Chalita has also repudiated the charges.

Machado also implicated more than 20 other politicians in corrupt acts, including Senate President Renan Calheiros, who Machado claimed to have paid millions of dollars worth of bribes over the past decade. Calheiros has denied breaking the law.

InSight Crime Analysis

The newly revealed accusations add weight to previous claims of corruption against Temer, who became Brazil's interim president in May after congress voted to suspend former President Dilma Rousseff and subject her to impeachment proceedings related to alleged budgetary rule-breaking.

Before Rousseff's suspension, the Associated Press pointed out that both Temer and Calheiros -- who was second in line to replace Rousseff -- had been implicated in Petrobras investigations. Nonetheless, Machado's allegations are the first to directly link Temer to corruption at Petrobras, and could spur investigators to open more serious probes into both politicians' past activities.

SEE ALSO: InDepth: Elites and Organized Crime

However, even if the allegations laid out in Machado's testimony have merit, some legal experts say prosecuting Temer would be difficult due to his status as interim president. Yet the accusations are sure to further roil Temer's administration, which was recently destabilized after leaked recordings seemed to show newly appointed cabinet members were actively seeking to subvert investigations into government corruption.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BRAZIL / 14 FEB 2012

A high-ranking police official in Brazil has said that 25 to 30 of the murders that took place in the…

ELITES AND CRIME / 20 JUL 2017

Asset forfeiture in Latin America can be a powerful tool against organized crime, but one fraught with legal and…

ELITES AND CRIME / 22 MAY 2019

Corruption seems to be the common denominator in Guatemalan politics, particularly in an election year. One particularly egregious case involves…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…