BRASILIA – Brazilian President Michel Temer said on Monday that his administration would not interfere with the probe into corruption at state oil company Petrobras and promised that any minister linked to the scheme would be “separated” from his post.
“Once again, I want to state that the government will not interfere in these matters,” Temer said in a press conference, adding that any minister under investigation “will be separated from the job.”
If an individual is prosecuted, he “will be definitively dismissed,” Temer said.
Temer’s administration is awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on the appointment of a minister suspected of benefiting from the Petrobras corruption scheme.
Wellington Moreira Franco’s appointment as chief of staff, a Cabinet-level job, was announced 10 days ago and challenged in the courts based on media reports about his alleged involvement in the corruption scheme.
Moreira Franco, according to the reports, was implicated in the scandal by former Odebrecht executives who have agreed to cooperate with the investigation into the corruption network.
The testimony of the witnesses, however, is still sealed and the contents have not been officially corroborated.
Last week, some courts accepted suits objecting to Moreira Franco’s appointment, but the government appealed and stays were granted.
Supreme Court Justice Celso de Mello will have the last word on the matter.
Attorneys challenging Moreira Franco’s appointment argue that as a minister, he will be shielded by executive privilege and could be investigated and prosecuted only by the Supreme Court, a process that is much slower and more cumbersome than ordinary court cases.