Jose Dirceu, a former presidential chief of staff of past-president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has been sentenced to 23 years-and-three-months in prison on corruption charges.
Federal Judge Sergio Moro, presiding, sentenced Dirceu after he was found guilty of involving in a huge corruption-kickback scheme at state-owned oil company Petrobras, though the former presidential aide can appeal his sentence.
According to prosecutors, over two-billion-dollars, $2 billion ie (N397,920,000,000 in Naira – with the current exchange rate) was paid in bribes and other funds by Brazil’s biggest construction and engineering firms in exchange for inflated Petrobras contracts.
Prosecutors said Dirceu was the brain behind the kickback scheme at Petrobras, where he accepted bribes while in office and continued to receive payments from contractors after he was jailed in late 2013 for vote-buying scandal.
Some of Brazil’s richest businessmen and top public figures from across the country’s political sphere have also been enmeshed in the Petrobas investigation.
Judge Moro wrote in his sentencing decision of Dirceu, “Not even a conviction by the country’s highest court could inhibit criminal relapse”, noting that he had deliberately taken part in the bribery scheme even after he was convicted for vote-buying and was serving a separate sentence of over ten years in prison by the supreme court for running a congressional vote-buying operation.
In connection with the case, Dirceu who served under ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva between 2003 and 2005, is the most senior member of the Workers’ Party to be arrested.
His charges include corruption, money-laundering and conspiracy.