By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – A tornado swept over Brasília on Tuesday, April 11th, as Brazil’s Supreme Court Justice, Edson Fachin, ordered investigations into 42 federal representatives, 24 senators, three state governors and eight Temer cabinet members for corruption.
All of the public officials were named by former Odebrecht executives in their plea-bargaining agreements with the federal prosecutors office (MPF) in relation to the mega-corruption scandal known as Operação Lava Jato (Carwash Operation).
Included in the list are both presidents of Congress, Rodrigo Maia, of the Chamber of Deputies and Eunicio Oliveira, leader of the Senate.
Among the senators to be investigated are Romero Jucá, President of President Temer’s PMDB party and Aecio Neves, former presidential candidate and president of the PSDB party.
According to the documents released, Neves was named in testimonies made by at least five executives, including former Odebrecht CEO, Marcelo Odebrecht. In the complaints filed the MPF), the senator is accused of active and passive corruption and money laundering.
Two inquiries were opened to investigate exclusively Romero Jucá. In one of them, prosecutors maintain that the congressman received R$4 million to help Odebrecht’s interests in Congress.
Also to be investigated are some of President Temer’s closest aides, like Secretary General of the Presidency, Wellington Moreira Franco, and Chief of Staff Eliseu Padilha.
According to the testimonies by the 77 former Odebrecht executives, the construction company paid from hundreds of thousands to millions of reais for political campaigns of these officials as well as outright bribes for contract advantages and beneficial legislation.
Agriculture Minister, Blairo Maggi, for example was said to have received R$12 million for his gubernatorial campaign in Mato Grosso state, while Odebrecht gave Moreira Franco over R$4 million for benefits in the concession of airports in the states of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Goias.
All officials involved, who spoke to local media on Tuesday or released press statements about the investigations, said they had done nothing wrong and all of their campaign contributions were within the established laws.
In a press release, senator Aecio Neves noted the importance of the end of the secrecy of the content in the plea-bargainings. According to the senator, with the disclosure ‘it will be possible to unmask the lies and demonstrate the absolute correctness of my conduct,’ concluded the official.
Romero Jucá said that he always was and always will be available to render any information to the Courts. “In my election campaigns, I have always acted within the legislation and had all of my bills approved,” said the congressman in a statement to the press.
Agriculture Minister, Blairo Maggi, stated through an aide he would not comment on the information released on Tuesday, noting that there was ‘zero possibility of (his) involvement in any irregularities’.
Even known ‘enemies’ inside Congress joined together to predict the dismissal of the accusations. “A public man knows that he can be investigated, but that can not mean a prior conviction or a certificate that any irregularities have been committed,” said PMDB leader in the Senate, Renan Calheiros to reporters.
PT (Workers Party senator Lindbergh Farias agreed, stating that the investigations would clarify the facts. “As on other occasions, I am convinced that a dismissal (of charges) will be the only possible outcome for this process. Again, justice will be done,” said the Congressman said in a press statement.