HomeNewsBriefPetrobras Corruption Scandal Threatens Brazil’s Political Elite
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Petrobras Corruption Scandal Threatens Brazil's Political Elite

BRAZIL / 6 FEB 2015 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Police in Brazil are questioning the treasurer of the ruling Workers' Party over the Petrobras corruption case, as the scandal continues to edge ever closer to the country's political elite.

Joao Vaccari Neto was called in to answer allegations that profits from inflated prices companies paid for contracts with Petrobras -- Brazil's state owned oil company -- were siphoned off to the Workers' Party (PT) and its allies, reported the BBC.

According to one of the case's prosecutors, investigators are demanding information over all donations -- legal or illegal -- made to the PT by people with Petrobras contracts.

In response, the PT has put out a statement saying all donations it has received have been legal and registered with the electoral authorities.

Although Vaccari has not been arrested, police say they are currently chasing down 62 warrants for arrests, searches, and detentions related to the case, according to the BBC.

The news comes shortly after the Petrobras CEO and five other executives resigned as the company faces not only the deepening corruption scandal but also a raft of economic problems. On Friday, the company announced the new CEO will be the current president of the Bank of Brazil, Aldemir Bendine, reported O Globo.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Petrobras scandal first broke in March last year, when allegations emerged that top Petrobras executives were collecting bribes to fix contracting bids. Petrobras' ex-director of supply then turned state witness and alleged that politicians, most from the PT and its allies, had profited from the scheme.

The case has already tarnished Brazil's business elite, with executives from Petrobras and some of the country's most important construction and engineering companies among the 91 people who had been charged as of December 22, according to the Washington Post.

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profiles

The case has also long been threatening to reach into the country's political elite, and the scandal threatened to undermine the anti-corruption credentials of President Dilma Rousseff -- a former Petrobras chairperson -- during presidential elections last year.

While the allegations were not enough to sabotage the reelection of Rousseff, the interrogation of the PT treasurer shows that while no allegations have yet been made against the president, her party is far from in the clear, and the case could yet lay bare the corrupt underbelly of high level politics in Brazil.

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