Brazil Supreme Court Validates Plea Bargains in Graft Probe

SAO PAULO (AP) — The head of Brazil’s Supreme Court validated 77 plea bargains with officials from a construction giant targeted by a major corruption probe on Monday, a step that is likely to significantly widen investigations into top politicians and businessmen.

All Brazil has been waiting to learn what is contained in the plea bargains with executives and former executives from Odebrecht, one of the main players in a massive kickback scheme. The investigation into kickbacks at the state-run oil company Petrobras is already the largest ever in Brazil, but the Odebrecht deals are expected to reveal even more wrongdoing and contain allegations that the corruption reached the highest levels of government. At least one could implicate President Michel Temer, who denies wrongdoing.

The dossiers from the deals are now being sent to the prosecutor, the court said in a statement. They will remain secret for the time being.

Prosecutors say that inflated contracts at Petrobras and other state companies yielded more than $2 billion in bribes over a decade and the probe already has ensnared dozens of politicians and executives, many of them implicated by information learned in plea bargains.

There were concerns that the probe might be delayed after the Supreme Court justice tasked with handling part of it was killed in a plane crash this month. Justice Teori Zavascki had been reviewing the Odebrecht plea bargains when he died. To avoid any delay, Supreme Court President Carmen Lucia validated the deals herself on Monday.

One of the most anticipated deals accuses Temer of seeking and accepting illegal campaign financing, according to testimony obtained by The Associated Press. If the allegations are confirmed by Brazil’ top electoral court, the president would be removed and Congress would pick a successor. Temer has denied wrongdoing.
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