Brazil's attorney general announces anti-corruption measures

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil's attorney general said Friday he will ask Congress to approve a series of anti-graft measures to combat the "plague that is corruption."

Rodrigo Janot made the proposal just two days after President Dilma Rousseff announced similar measures in the wake of last weekend's massive rallies calling for her impeachment and protesting rampant corruption in Brazil.

Both Janot and Rousseff call for the criminalization of slush funds used to finance election campaigns, the seizure of assets of people found guilty of corruption, and the requirement that government officials have no record of crimes.

The attorney general's proposals also would classify corruption as a heinous crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

They would make illicit enrichment a crime, with penalties determined by the amount of money involved.

"Corruption steals food, medicine and the education of Brazilians. He who steals millions, kills millions," federal prosecutor Delton Dallagnol said at the event where the proposals were announced.

"Like homicide, corruption kills, and leaving Brazil without health or education is a heinous crime," said Dallagnol who is coordinating the investigation into the corruption-kickback scandal engulfing Brazil's state-owned oil company, Petrobras.

Federal prosecutors say at least $800 million in bribes were paid by construction and engineering firms to politically appointed former executives at the oil company in exchange for winning inflated contracts.

Investigators say some of the money was funneled back to the campaign coffers of the Workers' Party and its allies. Dozens of lawmakers and some former executive branch officials, including two former chiefs of staff to Rousseff, are under investigation.

The president, who served as chairwoman of Petrobras' board during several years when the graft occurred, is not implicated.