BRASILIA Ė The Brazilian Senate voted on Wednesday to confirm President Michel Temerís nominee to fill the open seat on the Supreme Court.
Alexandre De Moraes was confirmed by a vote of 55-13 as the replacement for Teori Zavascki, who until his death last month in a plane crash had been responsible for guiding all cases related to a sprawling corruption scandal centered on state-controlled oil company Petrobras through the high court.
The scheme involved the payment of bribes to Petrobras officials by executives at leading Brazilian construction and engineering companies, which in turn received inflated contracts.
The bribes-for-inflated contracts scandal forced Petrobras to write off some 6.2 billion reais (around $2 billion at the current exchange rate) in graft-related losses from the period between 2004 and 2014.
Dozens of executives have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms as a result of the probe, known in Brazil as Lava Jato (Car Wash), although many of these sentences have been reduced as a result of plea deals.
Politicians who allegedly received a portion of the dirty money also have been implicated in the scheme; under Brazilian law, cases involving holders of elected office and Cabinet-level officials must be heard in the Supreme Court.
De Moraes will oversee some cases involving very senior politicians if they reach the trial and sentencing stages. Another Supreme Court justice, Edson Fachin, was chosen earlier this month by the full court to shepherd the vast majority of Lava Jato cases through the tribunal.
Of the Senateís 81 members, at least 44 are suspected of or under investigation for corruption, many of them for allegedly receiving kickbacks as part of the Petrobras scheme.
One alleged beneficiary of the scheme was Senate President Eunicio Oliveira, according to the local press, which cited leaked plea-bargain testimony by executives from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.