Brazil president removed from office
Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 1:12PM
Richard L. Cassin in Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, Marcelo Odebrecht, Michel Temer, Petrobras

Brazil’s Senate voted Wednesday to remove President Dilma Rousseff from office. The vote was 61 to 20, well clear of the two-thirds needed to pass the impeachment motion.

The Senate had suspended Rousseff in May after voting to hold an impeachment trial.

Michel Temer, her former vice president, has been serving as interim president. He's expected to complete Rousseff's four-year term that ends in December 2018.

Millions of protesters first poured into the streets across Brazil in March, demanding Rousseff's ouster.

The Senate charged her with manipulating the budget to hide a deficit and acting without authority. Fifty-four yes votes were needed to remove her.

Brazil has sunk into its worst recession in a century and a corruption and kickback scandal at state-owned energy giant Petrobras keeps growing.

The Petrobras investigation is known as Operation Car Wash. It began in early 2014.

Several former Petrobras executives have been jailed.

A Brazil federal court also sentenced high-profile construction tycoon Marcelo Odebrecht to 19 years in prison.

Odebrecht, 47, was convicted of paying more than $30 million in bribes to Petrobras officials in exchange for contracts.

Some Petrobras officials have made plea deals with prosecutors and are giving evidence against government officials. Reports based on court documents describe massive bribes from contractors and huge kickbacks paid to secret accounts.

Switzerland has frozen about $400 million in accounts linked to the Car Wash investigation.

Petrobras took a $2 billion write down in April 2015 for "improperly capitalized additional spending" -- meaning overcharges in contracts used to cover costs of the graft and kickbacks.

Petrobras is the most indebted oil company in the world.

Rousseff was Brazil's first female president. She blamed a drop in oil and other commodity prices for Brazil's struggling economy.

The new president has been implicated in the Petrobras scandal. A former executive from the company said Temer solicited a $400,000 campaign donation in 2012 for a São Paulo mayoral candidate.

Temer has denied any wrongdoing.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He'll be the keynote speaker at the FCPA Blog NYC Conference 2016.

Article originally appeared on The FCPA Blog (https://www.fcpablog.com/).
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