Brazil court accepts charges against 27 in Petrobras corruption case

RIO DE JANEIRO – A Brazilian judge on Monday accepted federal prosecutors’ corruption charges against the treasurer of the ruling Workers’ Party in connection to a sprawling graft scheme at state-run oil company Petrobras.

Federal magistrate Sergio Moro, in the southern state of Parana, said in an email that party treasurer Joao Vaccari Neto was among 27 people whose charges were formally accepted on Monday.

That means more than 100 people now face charges related to the Petrobras case — and prosecutors say still have a lot of investigative work to do on what they’re calling the largest corruption scheme yet uncovered in Brazil.

They allege that at least $800 million in bribes and other illegal funds were paid by the nation’s biggest construction and engineering firms to politically appointed Petrobras executives, who enriched themselves and funneled the money into the campaign coffers of the Workers’ Party and its allies. In return, the companies won lucrative and inflated contracts with the oil firm, Brazil’s biggest company.

Fallout from the case has weakened President Dilma Rousseff, who just months into her second term in office has seen her popularity ratings plunge as public outrage increases over the Petrobras scheme and a weakening economy.