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By Marcela Ayres
BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's top public prosecutor dramatically expanded a corruption probe into the country's political establishment on Tuesday, asking the Supreme Court to open 83 new investigations into politicians named in explosive plea bargain testimony.
Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot also requested that the Supreme Court send 211 other requests to lower courts based on much-anticipated testimony by executives of engineering group Odebrecht implicated in Brazil's biggest-ever graft scandal.
Under Brazilian law, cabinet ministers, federal senators and lower house lawmakers can only be tried in the Supreme Court, where cases can take years to come to trial.
A source told Reuters last week that Janot's political targets in the massive graft probe include two ministers in President Michel Temer's cabinet, raising concerns about the stability of his administration and its fiscal reforms plans.
Temer said last month that he would suspend any cabinet member who is placed under investigation and would only dismiss them if they are indicted for corruption.
The president has not been directly implicated in illicit party funding and has denied any wrongdoing in the sprawling three-year-old corruption scandal centered on overpriced contacts at state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA
Dozens of politicians reportedly named for taking kickbacks in the testimony by Odebrecht executives -- which remains under judicial seal -- included senators in Temer's Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PDMB) and the allied Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), which led the impeachment of leftist Dilma Rousseff last year.
The new investigations will be a test for Temer as he strives to pull Latin America's largest nation from its worst recession in more than a century.
Temer succeeded Rousseff in May, vowing to eliminate corruption and restore fiscal discipline, but he has already lost several ministers to bribery allegations.
His chief of staff Eliseu Padilha, a key organizer of political support in Congress for a crucial reform of Brazil's costly pension system, is now on thin ice after an Odebrecht executive reportedly said he asked for a cash donation of 10 million reais ($3.2 million) for Temer's 2014 campaign.
Padilha has repeatedly declined to comment on the media reports.
($1 = 3.17 reais)
(Reporting by Marcela Ayres; Writing by Brad Haynes and Anthony Boadle; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Sandra Maler)
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)