Brazil’s Vaccari Testifies in Congress About Petrobras Corruption Allegations

Brazil’s Vaccari Testifies in Congress About Petrobras Corruption Allegations

Workers’ Party treasurer says donations to PT were legal

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Workers’ Party Treasurer João Vaccari Neto on Thursday testifies before a special committee of the Brazilian Congress investigating alleged corruption in the state-owned oil company Petrobras. (Evaristo Saevaristo/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images) PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

By

PAULO TREVISANI And JEFFREY T. LEWIS/WSJ

April 9, 2015 11:26 a.m. ET

SÃO PAULO—João Vaccari, the treasurer of Brazil’s Workers’ Party, testified before a congressional committee investigating allegations of kickbacks and bribery at state-controlled oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA on Thursday and said donations to his party were all legal and approved by the country’s electoral court.

The donations to the Workers’ Party, or PT, were similar to those made by the companies under investigation to many other political parties, Mr. Vaccari told the committee. Brazilian police and prosecutors allege Petrobras executives conspired with many of the company’s suppliers to inflate the value of contracts.

The extra money was then skimmed and distributed among the Petrobras executives and several political parties, according to investigators. Executives of construction companies have been arrested during the investigation, and earlier this year Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court approved investigations of dozens of politicians.

Mr. Vaccari denied in his testimony Thursday ever discussing donations or the PT’s finances with former Petrobras executive Pedro Barusco. Mr. Barusco has turned state’s evidence and admitted to participating in the scheme. Mr. Barusco told the committee in testimony last month that he had discussed bribes with Mr. Vaccari,

Mr. Vaccari’s testimony was delayed briefly when someone released several mice in the hearing room at the beginning of the meeting. The session settled down quickly and Mr. Vaccari began to speak.

Write to Paulo Trevisani at paulo.trevisani@wsj.com and Jeffrey T. Lewis atjeffrey.lewis@wsj.com

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