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World News

FACTBOX: Brazil's political corruption scandals

(Reuters) - President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva promised to clean up corruption in Brazilian politics when he first won office in 2002.

But his first term was marred by scandals, and five months into his second term police are investigating kickback accusations that may cost the energy minister his job.

Here are the main sagas of the past few years, identified by their nicknames:

-- “Operation Razor” - Energy Minister Silas Rondeau under investigation on suspicion of receiving a kickback from a construction company that won a government contract to bring electricity to poor households. Police arrested 47 people in mid-May, including Rondeau’s senior aide, on charges of embezzling money from big public works projects.

-- “Operation Hurricane” - In April, police arrested 25 suspects including judges and prosecutors on charges of influence peddling, money-laundering and links to illegal gambling. It was the first big operation targeting corruption in the judicial system. Police suspect links to politicians and the probe will go on.

-- “Caixa Dois” (Second Cash Register) - Involved undeclared campaign funding by the ruling Workers’ Party and its allies. Some funds were reported to have come from state firms. Several top Workers’ Party figures quit their posts.

-- “Mensalao” (Big Monthly Payments) - Opposition claims that undeclared campaign funds under the “Caixa Dois” scheme were used to buy votes in support of government proposals in Congress. This scandal forced Jose Dirceu, Lula’s powerful cabinet chief, to resign, although he denied any wrongdoing.

-- “Republic of Ribeirao Preto” - Alleged kickback scheme for municipal contracts in Ribeirao Preto city, where Antonio Palocci was mayor before he entered government. Palocci resigned as finance minister but protested his innocence. Accusers told of a “party house” where officials met to hand over money and consort with call girls.

-- “Sanguessugas” (Bloodsuckers) - An alleged scheme by lawmakers who arranged for government purchases of overpriced ambulances in exchange for kickbacks. Public prosecutors have implicated about 90 members of Congress.

-- “Dossiergate” - Police arrested Workers’ Party members in the weeks before the 2006 presidential election with about $1 million that investigators say was to buy a dossier that implicated opposition candidates in the ambulance kickback scheme. The scandal forced a second round.

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