By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – A key player in Brazil’s Lava Jato (Carwash) scandal, Sergio Machado, told investigators that he paid millions of dollars worth of bribes to at least twenty politicians from several political parties, and was asked by interim president, Michel Temer, to arrange illegal campaign contributions for an ally, according to documents released by the courts on Wednesday.
The former president of Transpetro, the country’s largest oil transportation company, has been talking to investigators looking into the Lava Jato mega-corruption scandal as part of a plea-bargain agreement.
Machado, who ran the Petrobras subsidiary from 2003 to 2014 has named several politicians, including interim Rio de Janeiro governor, Francisco Dornelles and current Tourism Minister, Henrique Eduardo Alves, as receiving bribes.
According to Machado, Temer asked him to obtain campaign donations for ally Gabriel Chalita, when the latter was running to be the mayor of São Paulo. In the plea-bargaining agreement, Machado said that Temer negotiated with him in 2012 the transfer of R$1.5 million in kickbacks to finance Chalita’s campaign. The money, according to the former president of Transpetro, would have been given by the construction company Queiroz Galvao.
On Wednesday afternoon President Temer’s press office released a statement saying, “it is absolutely untrue version that (the President) would have requested illicit funds from former President of Transpetro Sérgio Machado, a person with whom he had only a formal relationship and no proximity”.
The latest allegations made by Machado to federal prosecutors are expected to further rock the political scenario in the country. Earlier in the month, Machado caused a furor in Brasilia by accusing former Planning Minister, Romero Juca, Senate President Renan Calheiros and former President José Sarney of trying to interfere, and even halt, the Lava Jato investigation. Machado released secret recordings of the officials talking about ‘limiting’ the effects of the investigation.