Brazil top court accepts plea deal by ex-senator linked to top politicians: paper

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s Supreme Court accepted a plea bargain agreement with an ex-senator at the center of a political uproar that cost the Planning Minister his job on Monday, O Estado de S. Paulo reported on Wednesday.

Sérgio Machado, who is also the ex-president of the transportation arm of state-run oil giant Petrobras, has been under investigation in the two-year-long probe of a bribe scheme involving Petrobras contractors and politicians.

A leaked conversation between Machado and Senator Romero Juca on Monday caused the first major crisis for interim President Michel Temer, who took office earlier this month after President Dilma Rousseff was suspended to face an impeachment trial.

The recordings suggested Juca sought to obstruct the corruption probe, leading Juca to step aside from the Planning Ministry.

Separately, the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo on Wednesday published what it said was a recorded conversation between Machado and Senate President Renan Calheiros, in which the senator purportedly said that a political transition should be negotiated with the Supreme Court and that plea bargaining laws should be changed.

It was not immediately clear when the leaked conversation took place.

A Supreme Court spokeswoman declined to comment on the reports, saying plea bargain deals are confidential. Efforts to reach a Machado representative by phone were unsuccessful.

In a statement, Calheiros said the excerpts “do not reveal nor suggest any attempt to interfere in the Car Wash probe,” the name prosecutors gave to the Petrobras-centered investigation.

Reporting by Silvio Cascione Editing bhy W Simon