13 April 2016
The corruption probe into Brazil’s state oil firm Petrobras has reeled in another big political fish with the arrest on Tuesday of former national Senator Gim Argello as part of police raids in three states.
Argello, a prominent member of the Brazilian Labour Party (PTB), was in the senate from 2007 until earlier this year.
The charges against him claim that he took bribes worth $1.53m to impede the Petrobras investigation, using his influence to see that executives of construction firms UTC and OAS did not have to face a congressional committee of inquiry in 2014.
The vast Petrobras scandal involves bribes-for-inflated contracts to numerous contractor firms, and kickbacks to high-level politicians. Numerous company executives of Petrobras and the contractor companies have been disgraced during the probe known as “Operation Car Wash”.
Argello’s PTB is a centre-right party but most of the politicians charged so far have belonged to the more left-wing Workers Party of current president Dilma Rousseff, who finds herself ever closer to impeachment charges over a separate issue to do with fabricating economic data in 2014.
On Monday a congressional committee voted in favour of impeaching Rousseff but there are more hurdles to clear before that becomes a reality.