Brazilian senator Delcídio do Amaral. Image courtesy of Senado Federal - CAE - Comissão de Assuntos Econômicos/Wikimedia Commons.

Billionaire financier Andre Esteves and Senator Delcídio do Amaral were formally charged on Monday for their alleged attempts to block the Brazilian government’s probe into corruption at Petrobras.

Sources close to the matter told Reuters the two men have been charged with obstructing the ongoing criminal investigation into contract price-fixing and graft tied to Petrobras deals.

Neither Brazil’s Supreme Court nor the general-prosecutor’s office have commented yet.

Esteves, the thirteenth richest man in Brazil, and Amaral were both arrested last month as part of the widening probe into Petrobras contracts.

Amaral and Esteves have both denied any wrongdoing, Reuters said.

Esteves, 47, is worth an estimated $2.5 billion and is the founder of BTG Pactual, the largest independent investment bank in Latin America and an initial investor in Sete Brasil, a state-owned rig firm.

The charges follow a vote earlier this year by Brazil’s Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry in favor of indicting former officers of Petrobras and Sete Brasil along with other agents and lobbyists for alleged graft.

BTG Pactual has said it will cooperate with investigators.

Amaral, a member of Brazil’s ruling Workers Party, is the third Brazilian lawmaker to be charged for alleged involvement in the Petrobras scandal, Reuters said.

House Speaker Eduardo Cunha and former President Fernando Collor de Mello were both charged for their involvement in the graft scheme in August.

The charges against Amaral and Esteves come at a particularly difficult time for Brazilian president and former Petrobras CEO Dilma Rousseff, who is currently facing impeachment.

Senators have accused Rousseff of illegal accounting practices tied to the federal budget, an accusation she has repeatably denied, the AFP said.

Rousseff has not been linked to the Petrobras scandal and her administration believes the impeachment effort will not be successful, the AFP added.


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