Brazil Ruling Party's Treasurer Charged in Petrobras Scandal


BRASILIA/SAO PAULO, March 16 (Reuters) - Brazilian prosecutors formally charged the treasurer of the ruling Workers' Party and 26 others with corruption linked to state-run Petrobras on Monday, in the latest blow to President Dilma Rousseff from the widening scandal.

Prosecutors have "ample proof" that Joao Vaccari, treasurer of Rousseff's ruling party, solicited donations from former Petrobras services chief Renato Duque and executives at engineering firms accused of funneling money from the oil company, prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol said.

Vaccari was "well aware" the donations he was seeking comprised funds stemming from bribes, Dallagnol said, adding that much of the evidence was gleaned from plea bargain deals with executives who were indicted and jailed late last year.

Such plea bargain deals have restored 500 million reais ($154 million) of stolen money to public coffers to date, he added.

The Workers' Party says all the donations it received were legal and Rousseff has denied knowing about corruption at Petrobras though she was chairwoman of its board from 2003 to 2010 when much of the alleged graft occurred.

Still, the scandal's fallout has heaped political pressure on Brazil's president months after she was narrowly re-elected. Outrage among Brazilians contributed to huge street protests across the country, pressuring her administration and in several cases calling for her impeachment.

Duque, who headed the department responsible for the bulk of Petrobras investments, was also indicted after federal police arrested him at his house in Rio de Janeiro. He had been detained for three weeks late last year in the early stages of the Petrobras investigation known as Operation Car Wash.


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