Brazil­ian slugfest over cor­rup­tion

CityPress - - News -

Brazil’s pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates traded ac­cu­sa­tions over po­lit­i­cal cor­rup­tion on Fri­day night in a last-gasp at­tempt to sway un­de­cided vot­ers be­fore to­day’s elec­tion runoff in the coun­try’s clos­est race in decades.

In the fi­nal tele­vi­sion de­bate of a bit­ter cam­paign on Fri­day night, left­ist Pres­i­dent Dilma Rouss­eff and probusi­ness op­po­si­tion can­di­date Ae­cio Neves sparred over who was best suited to re­store growth to a stag­nant econ­omy, fight in­fla­tion, bring down rents and deal with open sew­ers in Brazil­ian ci­ties.

But it was a deep­en­ing bribery scan­dal at the coun­try’s largest en­ter­prise, state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petro­bras), that brought the fiercest ex­changes.

“There is one easy way to put an end to cor­rup­tion: throw the Work­ers’ Party out of of­fice,” Neves said in re­ply to a ques­tion from a voter on how to im­prove Brazil’s le­nient anti-cor­rup­tion laws.

Polls show that the fes­ter­ing cor­rup­tion scan­dal in­volv­ing the rul­ing OP­PO­NENTS Pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates Ae­cio Neves of the Brazil­ian So­cial Demo­cratic Party and Dilma Rouss­eff of the Work­ers’ Party be­fore a TV de­bate Work­ers’ Party has not had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the race in which Rouss­eff gained a clear lead this week.

Neves came out swing­ing in the de­bate and asked Rouss­eff straight out whether she knew about a scam that al­legedly re­ceived kick­backs from Petro­bras con­trac­tors and fun­nelled funds to Rouss­eff’s party and its al­lies in Congress.

The al­le­ga­tions were made in plea bar­gain state­ments by for­mer Petro­bras ex­ec­u­tive Paulo Roberto Costa and a black mar­ket money dealer called Al­berto Youssef, who were ar­rested in March in a money laun­der­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The weekly mag­a­zine Veja re­ported on Fri­day that Youssef has told po­lice and pros­e­cu­tors that Rouss­eff and her pre­de­ces­sor, Work­ers’ Party founder Luiz Ina­cio Lula da Silva, knew about the cor­rup­tion scheme. The jailed money dealer pro­vided no ev­i­dence.

Rouss­eff dis­missed the al­le­ga­tion as un­founded and called Veja mag­a­zine an op­po­si­tion mouthpiece that was try­ing to de­rail her re-elec­tion.

– Reuters

PhOTO: REUTERS

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