Español On Wednesday, March 15, police arrested the treasurer of Brazil’s ruling Workers’ Party (PT), João Vaccari, amid a wide-ranging investigation into a huge corruption scheme at state-run oil firm Petrobras.
Officer Igor Romario de Paula told press that Judge Sérgio Moro had ordered Vaccari’s detention due to his “criminal habits, recidivism, a clear danger to public order, because of the influence of the job he has, and the possibility of him fleeing.”
The treasurer has been charged with accepting “irregular donations” from private firms, having allegedly received R$4.3 million (US$1.3 million) over a 18-month period.
The evidence suggests that Vaccari has been involved in multiple corruption charges, De Paula added, and funneled money between the oil giant and his political allies as a linchpin of the kickback scheme.
“At least five plaintiffs have mentioned him as the middleman for the political party which he belongs,” the police official said. “There is a clear criminal pattern that is repeated.”
Vaccari’s wife and sister-in-law were also arrested after the authorities found grounds for suspicion in their bank accounts over deposits of significant sums.
A former Petrobras manager had previously linked Vaccari to the corruption scheme between Petrobras and the PT. The PT treasurer has nevertheless denied all allegations, maintaining that any donations he received were legal.
Vaccari’s arrest is likely to spur fresh protests against President Dilma Rousseff. Hundreds of thousands Brazilians have taken to the streets twice in less than a month to demand her resignation or impeachment by congress.
Rousseff, in the first year of her second term as president, is also taking flak for Brazil’s troubled economic panorama.
A survey released on Saturday suggested that presidential approval ratings have hit a record low, with only 13 percent of respondents giving the president’s administration a positive evaluation.