Brazil's Rousseff Struggling to Limit Petrobras Scandal's Damage


SAO PAULO/BRASILIA, Nov 21 (Reuters) - President Dilma Rousseff expects a bribery scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras to deteriorate in coming months, aides say, with arrests possible for some political allies and potentially serious damage to an economy that is already struggling.

Prosecutors say corrupt officials siphoned billions of dollars from Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally known, into the coffers of several parties including Rousseff's Workers' Party.

The probe has already resulted in the arrest of two former Petrobras officials as well as executives from eight of Brazil's 10 biggest construction companies, which prosecutors say were part of the scheme. More arrests are expected.

"The only thing we know is that things will get worse," a senior official close to Rousseff told Reuters.

Rousseff was chairwoman of Petrobras' board from 2003 to 2010, but she has denied any knowledge of graft and opposition parties have ruled out seeking her impeachment for now.

An uncharismatic career civil servant who has largely shunned the backroom dealing common in Brasilia, Rousseff will not try to stop the investigation from sweeping up guilty politicians, even those from her party, aides say. Local media say as many as 70 members of Congress could be implicated.

"We want this investigation to go forward in full," she said in a speech Thursday. "Brazil will come out of this stronger."


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