UPDATE 4-Brazil's Rousseff under pressure after party treasurer jailed

miércoles 15 de abril de 2015 17:09 GYT
 

(Adds party statement, Vaccari to quit his position)

By Sergio Spagnuolo

CURITIBA, Brazil, April 15 (Reuters) - Brazilian police on Wednesday arrested the treasurer of the ruling Workers' Party Joao Vaccari, moving an investigation of rampant corruption at state-run oil company Petrobras closer to President Dilma Rousseff's inner circle.

Federal police said they arrested Vaccari in his home in Sao Paulo and drove him to the southern city of Curitiba. There he will stand trial for alleged graft, political kickbacks and money laundering, the latest prominent Brazilian caught up in a multibillion-dollar probe.

Vaccari's arrest could bring the investigation closer to the president if the money allegedly siphoned from the oil firm, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, is found to have helped finance her 2010 or 2014 election campaigns.

The Workers' Party deplored the arrest and announced that Vaccari was leaving his position for legal reasons. A party statement expressed confidence in his innocence.

Federal judge Sergio Moro ordered Vaccari's arrest after five defendants testified in plea bargain agreements that engineering firms hired by Petrobras had overcharged the oil firm and passed on profits to the Workers' Party via Vaccari.

"Anyone responsible for such severe crimes, including using the position of treasurer of a political party to raise criminal funds and corrupt the political system, is a risk to public order," Moro wrote in a court order.

Vaccari, indicted on March 16, is the closest political figure to Rousseff to be jailed in the year-old Petrobras scandal. The investigation threw her government into a crisis at the start of her second term this year when it widened to include 47 politicians, all but one from her governing coalition.   Continuación...