BRASILIA – The Brazilian Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Wellington Moreira Franco may continue as cabinet chief after precautionary measures had been taken by federal judges to suspend his appointment because he has been tainted in the huge Petrobras corruption scandal.
Justice Celso de Mello ruled that Moreira Franco, who is a close associate of Brazilian President Michel Temer, may remain in his post and also guaranteed him privileged status, meaning that he may only be judged by the Supreme Court, according to a statement released by the body.
Two opposition parties had asked for the cabinet chief to be removed from his post given that he had been mentioned in a compromising manner in the complaint against the Odebrecht construction firm within the scope of Operation Lava Jato.
Moreira Franco, with the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), headed by Temer, moved into his new post on Feb. 3, which automatically gave him privileged status.
However, after motions filed by the Sustainability Network and PSOL parties, federal Judge Eduardo Rocha ruled that the naming of Moreira Franco to the post came “just three days after the presentation of complaints against Odebrecht,” the construction firm implicated in the corruption plot detected within the state-run energy firm, and several judges annulled the appointment.
According to local media, in their confessions, 77 former Odebrecht executives allegedly detailed the payment of bribes by the firm to some 200 politicians all across the political spectrum.
Moreira Franco, until his appointment as cabinet chief, had been in charge of a government privatization plan.
The two parties who requested the nullification of his appointment were backed up in a March 2016 ruling by a high court justice which prevented former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from being appointed to the cabinet of his successor, Dilma Rousseff, who was deposed last August and replaced by Temer.
At that time, Lula was being investigated for alleged corruption.
The local press has reported that Temer, too, allegedly received money from Odebrecht for campaigns without declaring it to electoral authorities, as required by law.