UPDATE 1-Brazil police question ruling party treasurer in Petrobras probe

jueves 5 de febrero de 2015 15:05 GYT

(Adds Workers' Party statement, Vaccari statement, background)

By Caroline Stauffer

SAO PAULO Feb 5 (Reuters) - Brazilian federal police said on Thursday they had started questioning João Vaccari Neto, the treasurer of the country's ruling Workers' Party, as a corruption probe focused on state-run oil company Petrobras widened to include political figures.

"We want to know about donations that he solicited, legal or illegal, from people who had contracts with Petrobras," prosecutor Carlos Fernando dos Santos Lima said at a press conference in Curitiba, where the probe started.

Police and prosecutors have accused former executives of Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) of conspiring with construction and engineering companies to funnel kickbacks to Rousseff's Workers' Party and its allies.

Vaccari is the most senior politician to be officially questioned in the case, which led Petrobras' chief executive officer and senior managers to resign this week and caused a political crisis for leftist President Dilma Rousseff.

The Workers' Party said in a statement on Thursday that the accusations were unfounded "lies" and that it had only received legal campaign donations. Vaccari has not been charged with any crime.

Soon after, Vaccari issued a statement in which he reiterated that the Workers' Party only receives legal contributions and that he would cooperate with investigators.

As treasurer for the party, Vaccari was responsible for soliciting campaign donations for Rousseff during last year's presidential election.   Continuación...