Brazil's prosecutor general Rodrigo Janot has requested permission to open 83 corruption probes against politicians in an escalation of a vast graft scandal already shaking Latin America's biggest country. Janot sent his request to the Supreme Court yesterday, which handles cases involving serving members of Congress or the government, his office said in a statement. There was no immediate indication of which politicians were being targeted. However, Janot also asked the court to unseal the cases so that the details can be made public, "considering the necessity to promote transparency and to safeguard the public interest." It was not clear how quickly the Supreme Court would give its response to Janot's request for a green light. The complaints against the politicians ramp up the so-called Car Wash probe, which has uncovered massive embezzlement and bribery based on state-oil company Petrobras. The accusations in Janot's list are based on a deluge of testimony in plea bargains with 77 former executives of the giant Odebrecht construction company, which was at the heart of the Petrobras scheme. The former Odebrecht employees, including ex-CEO Marcelo Odebrecht, have confessed to systemic bribery of politicians in exchange for inflated contracts with Petrobras and favorable legislation. The money went either directly into politicians' pockets or into party campaign slush funds. Speculation has been mounting over whether ministers in President Michel Temer's center-right government will be included on the list.
Several have already had to resign due to involvement in the Car Wash scandal since Temer took power last year. Temer himself has been implicated in Odebrecht testimony for allegedly asking for unregistered campaign donations to his PMDB party. He says that he did nothing illegal. Temer is also involved in a separate case at the Supreme Electoral Court which is looking into whether his 2014 election as vice president on the ticket with then president Dilma Rousseff benefited from campaign slush funds. The court could, in theory, annul the election's result, creating yet another wave of instability for Brazil.
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