Challenger Upends Brazilian Race for Presidency

September 16, 2014

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 09/15/2014

When Dilma Rousseff and Marina Silva were both cabinet ministers, they clashed on everything from building nuclear power plants to licensing huge dams in the Amazon.

Ms. Rousseff came out on top, emerging as the political heir to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and ultimately succeeding him as president. But she now finds herself locked in a heated race with Ms. Silva, an environmental icon who is jockeying for the lead in polling ahead of the Oct. 5 election as an insurgent candidate repudiating the power structure she helped assemble.

Ms. Silva’s upending of the presidential race is a symbol of the antiestablishment sentiment that has roiled Brazil, including anxiety over a sluggish economy and fatigue with political corruption. Her rising popularity also taps into shifts in society like the rising clout of evangelical Christian voters and a growing disquiet with policies that have raised incomes while doing little to improve the quality of life in Brazilian cities.

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Brazil’s Batista Faces Criminal Charges

September 15, 2014

Luciana Magalhaes – The Wall Street Journal, 09/13/2014

When Brazil’s best-known businessman was hit with criminal charges over the weekend involving billions of dollars in soured deals, he didn’t appear to miss a beat. Instead, Eike Batista was roaming the world scouting for business opportunities.

“Yesterday he was in Qatar,” said one of Mr. Batista’s lawyers, Sergio Bermudes, in a telephone interview Sunday. “It was a business trip.” The attorney said Mr. Batista had also planned to go to South Korea and would return to Brazil probably by Friday.

When the entrepreneur lands, he will be facing one of the biggest challenges of his life. Prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro last week charged Mr. Batista with financial crimes and requested the freezing of 1.5 billion Brazilian reais ($641 million) in assets belonging to the businessman and people close to him, according to documents posted on the public prosecutor’s website on Saturday.

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Brazil’s Rousseff moves to limit damage from Petrobras scandal

September 9, 2014

Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 09/08/2014

President Dilma Rousseff sought to shield her re-election bid from a new scandal at state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA by asking prosecutors on Monday for any details involving officials in her government.

Brazilian magazine Veja reported on Saturday that a jailed former executive at Petrobras named Energy Minister Edison Lobao and two dozen other politicians as people who received kickbacks from the company’s contracts.

The scandal threatens to further complicate Rousseff’s chances of winning a second term in October in a tight contest, with polls showing her behind environmentalist Marina Silva in a potential runoff. Rousseff told reporters Lobao had “vehemently” denied the allegations. She asked Brazil’s top prosecutor for details of the plea bargain testimony leaked to Veja to see if any government officials are involved so she can take action.

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Kickback Allegations Ensnare Brazil’s Presidential Campaign

September 9, 2014

Will Connors, Luciana Magalhaes and Jeffrey Lewis - The Wall Street Journal, 09/07/2014

Leading opposition presidential candidate Marina Silva was forced on Sunday to confront a scandal involving Brazil’s biggest company that already tarnished the country’s president and has added another level of complexity to October presidential elections.

A former executive of state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA PETR4.BR -4.91% alleged that dozens of prominent Brazilian politicians—including Ms. Silva’s former running mate Eduardo Campos —took part in a kickback scheme for Petrobras contracts, according to a story published Saturday by a Brazilian newsweekly.

Ms. Silva, a former environment minister who replaced Mr. Campos as the socialist party candidate after his death last month in a plane crash, currently leads incumbent Dilma Rousseff in the polls and has made clean government one of her main selling points.

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Scandal hits Brazil on eve of election

September 8, 2014

Longview News-Journal, 9/7/2014

As Brazilians prepare to vote in a national election next month, a scandal involving the state-controlled oil giant Petrobras flared up again during the weekend over testimony that implicated dozens of top figures in President Dilma Rousseff’s governing coalition in a vast kickback scheme.

Details of the scheme were revealed in confidential testimony by Paulo Roberto Costa, a jailed former executive who oversaw refining operations at Petrobras until 2012. The testimony was obtained by Veja, a Brazilian magazine. The accusations target Rousseff’s energy minister, Edison Lobão, and the leaders of both houses of Congress, Henrique Eduardo Alves and Renan Calheiros.

The revelations complicate a tough re-election bid by Rousseff, who has seen her lead in the polls vanish amid the surging candidacy of Marina Silva, an environmental leader whose campaign has blasted Rousseff over corruption at Petrobras and called on Brazil to shift toward a greater reliance on renewable energy sources. The election is scheduled for Oct. 5.

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Brazil: No Government Member Accused in Corruption Case

September 8, 2014

TeleSUR, 9/7/2014

The Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff (Workers’ Party – PT, center-left) denied on Sunday that there was any concrete evidence that could involve any members of her government in the corruption case freshly uncovered by the national press.

“I think that [the denunciation] does not involve the government, as no one in the government has been accused of anything,” said Rousseff in a press conference held in the presidential palace of the Alvorada, after a meeting with Brazilian youth.

The national press relayed on Friday and Saturday the alleged declarations of a former director of the national oil company Petrobras, Paulo Roberto Costa, to the police. In the declarations he would have accused dozens of politicians of corruption.

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Petrobras scandal shakes up Brazil’s presidential race

September 8, 2014

Stephen Eisenhammer – Reuters, 9/7/2014

Brazil’s October presidential race has been shaken up by a corruption scandal allegedly involving state-run oil firm Petrobras and dozens of lawmakers, with both leading candidates forced onto the defensive after colleagues were implicated.

Media reported on Friday night that a jailed former Petrobras director had named dozens of politicians who allegedly received kickbacks off the company’s contracts.

The revelations are a headache for President Dilma Rousseff, undermining her reputation for zero tolerance on corruption just as she is slipping in the polls ahead of the Oct. 5 election.

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