Brazil: Rousseff Campaign Aide Faces Arrest in Petrobras Investigation

Brazilian authorities issued an arrest warrant for campaign strategist Joao Cerqueira de Santana Filho and his wife, Monica Regina Cunha Moura, on allegations of corruption, according to the Financial Times. 

DilmaRousseff_copy_copy.pngDilma Rousseff (Photo Credit: Wikipedia) The couple are accused of channeling bribes from contractors of Petrobras, the state-owned oil company, to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s Workers Party, the newspaper reports.

Petrobras is in the middle of a massive corruption scandal, and the warrants for Santana and his wife were part of the ongoing investigation known as Operation Car Wash, according to the Financial Times.

Investigators say that Zwi Skornicki, an agent for a Singaporean shipbuilder, transferred around US$ 4.5 million to accounts held by Santana and Moura, who also allegedly received an estimated US$ 3 million in payments from Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht, according to a news release from Brazilian prosecutors.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Santana and his wife were in the Dominican Republic when the warrant was issued, but both plan to return to Brazil to surrender. Santana resigned from his job on the re-election campaign of President Danilo Medina in order to fight the “baseless accusations” against him, the Journal said.

Santana was behind Rousseff’s presidential campaigns in 2010 and 2014, and helped her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva win in 2006. Santana also has worked on the campaigns of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Angolan leader Jose Eduardo dos Santos, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Thiago de Aragao, an analyst for Arko Advice, said that Santana’s entanglement in Operation Car Wash is a blow to the Workers Party, and could signal that the investigation is moving closer to Rousseff and da Silva, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Rousseff remains unpopular with many in Brazil and has been been affected by the fallout over the Petrobras scandal. She has denied any knowledge or involvement in the scheme, according to the New York Times