Ruling party took oil bribes, former Petrobras exec claims
BRASILIA, Brazil – A former executive of Brazilian oil firm Petrobras, mired in a corruption scandal which has ensnared dozens of politicians, told lawmakers Tuesday, March 10, that the governing party received multimillion-dollar bribes.
Police say dozens of politicians benefited from a scheme facilitating corruption and money laundering that saw an estimated $3.8 billion creamed off inflated contracts over a decade using a sliding scale of percentages.
The investigation has fingered 4 dozen politicians, mostly allies of President Dilma Rousseff, whose coalition is now coming under intense strain.
Among those suspected of involvement in the scam are 12 senators – one a former president – and 22 Congressmen, all under scrutiny after the Supreme Court authorized their investigation on Friday, March 6.
"I received a share and the PT (Workers Party) another share, maybe $150-200 million," Pedro Barusco told a parliamentary investigative committee delving into Brazil's biggest graft scandal.
Barusco highlighted the role of PT treasurer Joao Vaccari Neto, who has already been questioned and released and whom the former Petrobras executive believes received up to $200 million.
"I don't know how Vaccari received it, if it was official donations, I don't know. There was a donations reserve (fund) for the PT. If he received it or the form in which he received it, I don't know," Barusco testified under oath.
"We always dealt with Joao Vaccari for this kind of thing – he oversaw it," stated Barusco, a naval engineer who joined Petrobras in 1979 and who has committed to returning $97 million that ended up in a Swiss bank account as part of a plea bargain.
Vaccari says any money the PT received came from legal donations.
According to Barusco, the graft scheme began in 2004, a year after the PT took power under Rousseff's mentor and predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and became an integral part of the way contracts were awarded.
Rousseff herself chaired the company from 2003 to 2010 but denies any knowledge of the scheme and is not accused of wrongdoing. – Rappler.com