Ex-exec: paid millions in bribes to Brazil president party

Brazil's President Michel Temer reacts during a ceremony of Sanction of the Law of Revision of the Regulatory Framework of the Broadcasting at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia

Brazil court orders investigation into top lawmakers

The empty chambers symbolised the problems that Temer may now have in maintaining his close working relationship with Congress as he tries to enact pension reform and other austerity measures aimed at dragging Brazil out of a historic recession.

Brazil's President Michel Temer smiles during a ceremony at the Planalto presidential palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, April 12, 2017. At the time, Temer was the vice-presidential candidate on a ticket with Workers' Party presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff.

The PSDB's president, senator Aécio Neves, is among those facing the highest number of separate investigations, with his name cited in five separate cases.

Brazil's Supreme Court announced late Tuesday that it had ordered probes into around 100 top politicians as part of the largest corruption scandal in Brazil's history.

All the politicians are suspected of involvement in a massive embezzlement and bribery conspiracy that fleeced state oil company Petrobras and funneled dirty money into leading political parties' election war chests.

The numbers in Tuesday's decision were staggering: Investigations have been opened into 24 senators - one of whom is a former president of Brazil - 39 congressional deputies, eight Cabinet ministers and three governors. As sitting members of government, the congressmen benefit from a rule known as the "privileged forum" that gives them the right to be tried by the Supreme Court, which has been historically more lenient than the lower courts.

The politicians have all denied any wrongdoing, while Mr Temer has temporary immunity from prosecution because Brazilian presidents can only be charged for crimes they committed during their term in office.

When asked whether it was clear that this money was a bribe or an illegal gain, Faria responded: "Totally an illegal gain because it was a percentage on top of the contract". That amounted to around $40 million, he said.

According to the executive he met with then Congressional representative Michel Temer in 2010 to talk about donations to be made to the politician's PMDB party.

Inn 2016, deposed President Dilma Rousseff issued a decree lifting the limit on foreign ownership of airlines to 49 percent from 20 percent.

If the tribunal's decision were to go against him, the election result could be annulled and President Temer could be forced from office.

Also now investigated: Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes; Trade and Industry Minister Marcos Pereira; Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi; the secretary-general of the presidency, Moreira Franco, who oversees the infrastructure investment program; and the ministers of communications, cities, culture and national integration. Padilha is under investigation in this case. Its former CEO, Marcelo Odebrecht, is serving a 19-year prison sentence for corruption.

Mr Padilha declined to comment on the investigation order, saying he will defend himself in court. "But obviously at the dinner he was aware".

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