Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, Petrobras, is embroiled in what might become one of the largest corruption scandals in the nation’s history.
This week The New York Times reported that prosecutor general Rodrigo Janot had prepared indictments on at least 11 executives from Brazil’s largest construction companies.
According to the story, Janot:
is opening the way for a trial that would focus scrutiny on growing testimony about a web of illicit dealings between former executives at Petrobras, the state-controlled oil company, powerful contractors and political figures in Ms. Rousseff’s government.
“We are following the money and we will reach all of these perpetrators,” Mr. Janot said Saturday night in an interview with the Globo television network.
The scandal, which involves claims of bribes to obtain contracts with Petrobras, stunned Brazil’s business establishment in November, when police arrested the executives and transferred them to a jail in the southern city of Curitiba. If testimony already obtained in the case is proven true, the case would dwarf previous corruption scandals in Brazil.
Evidence points to vast sums of money changing hands:
Pedro Barusco, once an obscure, third-tier executive at Petrobras, has agreed to return about $100 million in bribes related to his time at the company, a disclosure that could rank him among the largest known bribery recipients in Brazil’s history. Separately, Augusto Mendonça, an executive at Toyo Setal, a shipbuilding company, testified last week that he paid more than $23 million in bribes directly to the governing Workers Party and to Petrobras executives in exchange for contracts to build oil tankers.
The scandal already affecting the popularity of President Dilma Rousseff, who was narrowly re-elected in May. Rousseff is a former energy minister who once served as chairwoman of the board at Petrobras.
A new opinion survey released on Sunday by Datafolha, a prominent Brazilian polling company, showed that 68 percent of Brazilians hold Ms. Rousseff responsible for the bribery scandal. At the same time, Ms. Rousseff, who narrowly won re-election in October, has an approval rating of 42 percent, the survey showed.