By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The Chief Justice of Brazil’s Supreme Court, Carmen Lucia Rocha has ratified the 77 depositions given by Odebrecht executives in the investigation of the mega-corruption Lava Jato (Carwash) scandal.
“The documents will be sent over to the Prosecutor General’s Office today (Monday),” said the very brief statement released by the Supreme Court. Now Brazil’s Prosecutor General, Rodrigo Janot, will analyze the documents and decide if there are grounds to investigate those mentioned in the depositions.
There was some concern that the Lava Jato investigations would suffer a setback after the airplane crash earlier this month that led to the death of Supreme Justice Judge Teori Zavascki.
Zavascki was the lead judge taking the depositions for the Court. With his death, the Chief Justice authorized the auxiliary judges working with Zavascki to conclude the work. The Chief Justice was given the prerogative of ratifying the pleas before the end of the judiciary end-of-year recess.
After the recess, which ends on Tuesday (31), Chief Justice Rocha will no longer be able to make decisions related to Lava Jato scandal, leaving the responsibility to the yet-to-be chosen rapporteur of the operation in the Supreme Court.
Since late last year, tension has been high among politicians in Brasilia due to this group’s plea-bargaining agreements. According to local news outlets, the agreements could include the incrimination of as many as two hundred politicians from all political parties for corruption graft.
One of the most anticipated testimonies is that Odebrecht’s former CEO, who headed the family business, Marcelo Odebrecht. The executive, in jail since June 2015, has been sentenced to nineteen years and four months in prison for crimes of passive corruption, criminal association and money laundering in the Lava Jato scandal.
A few weeks after company executives started to talk to federal prosecutors, Odebrecht agreed to pay at least US$3.5 billion in penalties due to bribes paid to government officials in Brazil, the United States and Switzerland. At the time the U.S. Justice Department declared that this foreign bribery agreement was among the largest-ever in the world.