BRASILIA – Brazil’s Attorney General Rodrigo Janot said plea-bargain deals struck with 77 former executives of construction giant Odebrecht show a never-before-imagined level of corruption and a democracy under attack.
Janot made the remarks in an internal memo to members of the Attorney General’s Office that was published Wednesday by the daily O Globo.
On the basis of those plea deals, Janot on Tuesday asked Brazil’s Supreme Court to open investigations into 83 politicians who can only be tried by the high court. He also sent petitions to other courts requesting the opening of probes into 237 other individuals accused in the plea-bargain testimony.
Odebrecht is one of the companies ensnared in the so-called Lava Jato (Car Wash) investigation, in which several engineering and construction firms are accused of paying bribes to officials at Brazilian state-controlled oil company Petrobras in exchange for inflated contracts.
Extra money from the scheme allegedly was paid out to politicians who provided cover for the graft.
An aggressive investigation in recent months has led to prison terms for dozens of executives and politicians,
Brazilian media says the plea deals contain accusations that politicians from across the political spectrum received illegal campaign donations or accepted bribes in exchange for the awarding of government contracts.
Although the plea deals are still under seal, sources at the AG’s office have told different local dailies that among those accused of corruption are five Cabinet ministers, six senators, a lower-house lawmaker and two former presidents: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his protege and successor, Dilma Rousseff.
Odebrecht also is under investigation in several other Latin American countries after the builder and its petrochemical unit, Braskem, reached a settlement in December with the United States Department of Justice in which they pleaded guilty to paying hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to government officials around the world.
The companies agreed to pay a combined total penalty of at least $3.5 billion to resolve charges with authorities in the United States, Brazil and Switzerland arising out of those schemes.