HomeNewsBriefWill Brazil's Petrobras Scandal Topple President Rousseff?
BRIEF

Will Brazil's Petrobras Scandal Topple President Rousseff?

BRAZIL / 22 MAR 2016 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

As the biggest corruption scandal Brazil has ever seen continues to ensnare the country's top political and business elites, potentially damning testimony by a former ally tightens the net surrounding President Dilma Rousseff. 

Former senator Delcídio do Amaral has claimed that Rousseff and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva are directly involved in a widespread corruption case centered around state-owned oil giant Petrobras.

The developments are part of so-called "Operation Car Wash" -- which is investigating a bribery and kickback scandal involving Petrobras executives and suppliers that has cost the company billions of dollars, part of which was allegedly funneled into Rousseff and da Silva's Workers' Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores - PT).

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Elites and Organized Crime

In an interview with Veja magazine, Amaral said that da Silva, popularly known as "Lula," ran the scheme and that Rousseff inherited it when she took office in 2011. "Dilma also knew everything," he told Veja. "The difference is she pretended to have nothing to do with the case."

Amaral was arrested for alleged involvement in the Petrobras scandal in November 2015. He previously said that Rousseff and Lula were aware of the Petrobras kickback scheme in testimony to prosecutors, as part of a plea bargain (see his plea agreement here - pdf).

During his testimony to prosecutors, Amaral also accused President Rousseff of obstructing justice by appointing a sympathetic judge to the Supreme Court. Amaral said the judge blocked an arrest and facilitated the release of suspects implicated in the Petrobras case.

Rousseff's former chief of staff and current minister of education offered Amaral bribes to keep quiet about the scandal, the ex-senator told prosecutors.

Amaral's testimony is the first time Rousseff has been directly linked to the scandal, the Wall Street Journal reported, while Lula has previously been detained for questioning

Both Rousseff and Lula deny the allegations against them, while Rousseff has moved to sue Amaral for what the president's office described as defamatory statements.

InSight Crime Analysis

Senator Amaral's allegations are extremely damaging to a government that has been rocked to the core by scandal, as well as an ongoing economic crisis. However, the verdict is still out on whether the growing Petrobras corruption case has the potential to topple the presidency.

SEE ALSO: Brazil News and Profiles

It is notoriously difficult to bring members of Brazil's political and business elite to justice, although the recent sentencing of top businessman Marcelo Odebrecht to 19 years in prison as part of Operation Car Wash suggests this trend of impunity may be changing.

Public opinion in Brazil seems to be squarely against Rousseff and Lula, given the scale of anti-government protests in recent days. According to a recent poll by Datafolha, 68 percent of people questioned believe that Rousseff should be impeached. Such a motion can only pass if both the Senate and the lower house of Brazil's Congress vote to impeach Rousseff with a two-thirds majority, analyst Daniel Caplin of the consulting firm S-RM previously told InSight Crime.

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 / 16 MAR 2016

Former presidents of Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil have written an open letter denouncing the war on drugs and calling for…

BRAZIL / 2 JUL 2015

Brazil's House of Representatives has voted in favor of a bill that will see youths tried as adults, a controversial…

CARIBBEAN / 10 MAY 2021

High-ranking officials in the Dominican Republic are accused of siphoning millions of dollars in state funds through a religious non-profit,…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…