Brazil's federal police have created a diagram to illustrate their conception of the leadership structure of a "gang" of politicians accused of involvement in a massive graft scheme. And they put the country's president at the center of the alleged criminal organization.
Brazilian President Michel Temer "had authority of command" over a criminal structure composed of members of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro - PMDB), according to federal police documents submitted to Brazil's Supreme Court on September 11, Folha de São Paulo reported.
The police say that Temer illegally pocketed 31.5 million reais ($10 million) in his role as the leader of the "gang," which allegedly involved delegating criminal tasks to other individuals involved in a massive corruption scheme.
A separate Folha de São Paulo report reproduced two police diagrams from the investigation. The first places Temer at the center of the PMDB "gang" structure with jailed former lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha, also of the PMDB, at his side. The second diagram, shown below, illustrates how police believe Temer and Cunha were also key players in a broader graft scheme that involved major Brazilian construction companies like OAS and Odebrecht.
(Police diagram of the alleged "gang" within the PMDB, courtesy of Folha de São Paulo)
This is not the first time Temer has been investigated for his alleged involvement in the extensive elite criminality revealed by the wide-ranging probe known as "Operation Car Wash" ("Operação Lava Jato"). The president is also under investigation for alleged corruption related to the management of Brazil's commercial ports, according to Reuters. And authorities are looking into whether he obstructed justice by encouraging a businessman to pay hush money to Cunha.
InSight Crime Analysis
The police diagram showing Temer and Cunha as the leaders of a "gang" is the latest attempt by investigators to prove that Brazil's political parties essentially acted as criminal structures.
Judicial officials have adopted a similar angle of attack against Brazil's Workers' Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores - PT). Last week, Brazil's two previous presidents, Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, and other top PT officials were charged with controlling the "political nucleus" of the web of corruption revealed by Operation Car Wash.
Now, investigators appear to be honing in on the PMDB's role in the scandal, including the ties between party officials and companies like Odebrecht, which have previously admitted to operating in an organized, criminal manner to corrupt politicians in Brazil and other countries in the region. Prosecutors have described this as the "economic nucleus" of the overarching criminal structure.
SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profiles
Earlier investigations into the "economic nucleus" and subsequent plea bargains resulted in important testimonies from major actors in this node that have been crucial in helping authorities pursue the political side of the graft network. But so far, congress has protected the president, voting to block previous charges against him from advancing. And members of congress, a third of whom have been implicated by the Car Wash investigations, have also made efforts to protect themselves from the anti-graft probe.
If politicians believe they will be protected, there is much less incentive for them to enter into plea agreements that could provide crucial evidence about how the massive corruption scheme functioned. But if some of the top players in the political nucleus do flip, they could have important information to offer to investigators. Indeed, speculation has surfaced recently that Cunha -- by most accounts a key player in the graft network -- may enter into a game-changing plea bargain if a more friendly official replaces outgoing Attorney General Rodrigo Janot.