(Adds Lula facing new corruption charges)
By Anthony Boadle
BRASILIA Dec 19 Odebrecht executives have
testified the Brazilian engineering firm illegally funded the
2014 campaign of the country's impeached leftist president, a
top newspaper reported on Monday, a development that could lead
to the removal of her successor.
The testimony by the state witnesses as part of a leniency
deal with the firm could, if accepted by the Supreme Court,
bolster a request to annul the election two years ago of Dilma
Rousseff and her running mate Michel Temer for abuse of power.
If that were to happen next year, Brazil's Congress would
pick a caretaker to lead the country until a new president is
elected at the end of 2018. Temer formally took over the
presidency from Rousseff after her ouster in late August.
The Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, citing the testimony of
Odebrecht executives, said at least one of them told prosecutors
an illegal donation of about 30 million reais ($8.9 million) was
made to the Rousseff re-election campaign, roughly 10 percent of
its officially registered funding.
Temer has denied accepting illegal donations. His office had
no immediate comment on the newspaper report.
The current Brazilian president has lost four ministers due
to corruption allegations. That and a prolonged economic
recession have threatened his political survival and given rise
to calls for him to step down and allow new elections.
Last week, one of Temer's closest aides resigned following
allegations he received bribes from Odebrecht, and two other
members of his inner circle are under pressure to quit the
The TSE electoral court will decide next year whether to
annul the 2014 election result, though it can also separate
Rousseff's campaign accounts from Temer's and rule that he can
continue in office.
LULA FACES NEW CHARGES
Odebrecht, the family-owned company that prosecutors said
gained most from the sprawling graft scheme uncovered nearly
three years ago at state-run oil company Petrobras,
signed a 6.7 billion-real agreement with prosecutors on Dec. 1,
admitting guilt and offering information on bribes paid.
More than 70 of its executives, including family patriarch
and Chairman Emilio Odebrecht and his jailed son and former CEO
Marcelo Odebrecht, agreed to make plea statements that have been
received by the Supreme Court to validate them as evidence. A
court official said the lengthy pleas will be examined in
Odebrecht declined to comment but said in a statement that
it is cooperating with the judiciary and adopting ethical and
transparent compliance practices.
A judge on Monday indicted the country's former president,
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, as well as his wife Marisa and seven
others on corruption charges in the Petrobras kickback scheme.
Lula already was facing four other graft cases before the new
A leftist who was Rousseff's mentor, Lula is still one of
Brazil's most popular politicians and seen as a front-runner to
win the 2018 presidential election, though a conviction would
rule him out of the running.
Prosecutors allege that Odebrecht, Latin America's biggest
construction firm, paid 12.9 million reais for the land to be
used for Lula's think tank and an apartment in a Sao Paulo
($1 = 3.3675 reais)
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Paul Simao)