SAO PAULO – Brazilian Federal Judge Sergio Moro, who is overseeing the massive corruption case involving state-controlled oil company Petrobras, said during an appearance in Sao Paulo on Tuesday that he was an admirer of good politicians but had no plans to run for office.
“Politics is beautiful and there are good politicians, but you need to have a certain profile and I don’t see that I fit that profile. I decided to be a judge and I won’t be a candidate,” Moro said at a conference on the judiciary organized by the Jovem Pan radio network.
The names of Moro, who gained public acclaim for his work on the so-called Lava Jato (Car Wash) investigation, and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Joaquim Barbosa, who handled the “mensalao” (big monthly payoff) political corruption case, have been coming up in discussions of possible candidates for next year’s presidential election.
In late June, an Instituto Datafolha poll found Moro in second place with the support of 14 percent of likely voters, while former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva garnered the support of 29 percent of respondents planning to cast ballots.
Several engineering and construction firms are accused in the Lava Jato case of paying bribes to Petrobras officials in exchange for inflated contracts.
Extra money from the scheme was allegedly paid out to politicians who provided cover for the graft.
An aggressive investigation that started in 2014 has led to prison terms for dozens of executives and politicians involved in the $2 billion bribes-for-inflated-contracts scheme.
Among those caught up in the corruption scandal was Lula, who was sentenced on July 12 to nine years and six months in prison in connection with the Petrobras scheme.
On Aug. 1, the Brazilian Attorney General’s Office extended the investigation for another year.
Moro said in his address to the conference that the legislative and executive branches should do more to fight corruption instead of leaving that task to the courts, prosecutors and police.
“The actions against corruption are taken almost exclusively by the judicial system and that’s why we need more of a reaction from Congress and the executive branch,” the 45-year-old judge said.
The political reforms being debated in Congress are the types of actions needed to “reduce the opportunities for corrupt practices,” Moro said.
The judge, however, said the reforms did not go far enough and that Brazil needed to change the way election campaigns are financed to avoid having companies that obtain large loans from public institutions later turn around and make big donations to political parties.
“Companies that work as contractors for the government should not be able to make donations, that seems obvious to me,” Moro said.