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Brazil prosecutor charges members of Temer's party with criminal organization
September 8, 2017 / 11:08 PM / 13 days ago

Brazil prosecutor charges members of Temer's party with criminal organization

FILE PHOTO - Brazil's President Michel Temer attends the 'Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries' on the sideline of the 2017 BRICS Summit in Xiamen, Fujian province, China, 05 September 2017.REUTERS/Wu Hong/Pool

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s top prosecutor on Friday charged six lawmakers from President Michel Temer’s Brazilian Democracy Movement Party (PMDB) with forming a criminal organization, the latest in a barrage of charges in the country’s sprawling corruption scandal.

Those accused by prosecutor Rodrigo Janot in a filing with the Supreme Court include former senator and president Jose Sarney, the government’s leader in the Senate Romero Juca and four other current senators.

A corruption scandal involving cartels of companies bribing officials for public contracts has enveloped most of Brazil’s political elite with Janot expected to issue another charge against Temer in coming weeks.

Temer defeated a first corruption charge from Janot, when the lower house of Congress voted not to allow it to proceed to trial.

Separately on Friday, the Supreme Court said it would consider next week requests from Temer that would block Janot from issuing further charges.

In the charges against the senators, Janot alleges the group unduly received 864 million reais ($279.84 million) and generated related losses of 5.5 billion reais for state-controlled oil firm Petrobras and 113 million reais for its subsidiary Transpetro.

Transpetro’s former president, Sergio Machado, was also charged.

The PMDB said in a statement that the prosecutor lacked evidence and that it trusted the Supreme Court would set the charges aside.

Juca said in a statement he believes the Supreme Court will seriously analyze the charges and he hopes for a speedy investigation.

A representative for Machado said he continues to collaborate with authorities, providing evidence of crimes involving politicians and Transpetro suppliers that resulted in several cases being filed.

Janot’s latest charges echo those against former presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Dilma Rousseff and six other members of the Workers Party for criminal organization earlier this week. Lula and Rousseff deny the charges.

($1 = 3.0875 reais)

Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Additional reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Jake Spring; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler

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