Former Brazilian senator Gim Argello. Image courtesy of Senado Federal/Wikimedia Commons.

A former Brazilian senator was sentenced to nearly two decades in prison on Thursday for his involvement in the Petrobras bribery scheme.

According to Reuters, Gim Argello was sentenced to 19 years in prison after a Brazilian judge found that he received more than $1.57 million in campaign contributions from UTC Engenharia SA and $630,000 in contributions from Toyo Setal Engenharia.

Prior to his arrest, Argello had served as the vice president of a congressional committee investigating alleged corruption schemes tied to Petrobras projects.

Argello was arrested in April after officials alleged he received just over $2 million in bribes to help infrastructure companies avoid being summoned by the congressional committee.

The former senator was also convicted of taking just over $100,000 from engineering firm OAS SA that was then laundered through a Catholic church in his district, Reuters said.

“Instead of fulfilling his duty, the condemned took advantage of power and opportunity to illegally enrich himself and continue a criminal cycle,” federal judge Sergio Moro wrote in a decision seen by Reuters.

Argello is one of several high-profile politicians who have been ensnared in the years-long investigation into bribery tied to Petrobras contracts.

Last month, former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was charged with corruption and money laundering for his alleged role as the “boss” of a multi-billion graft scheme.

Prosecutors allege that Lula collected just over $1 million in kickbacks along with a luxury apartment from OAS.

Former lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha resigned from his post earlier this year amid an investigation into alleged bribes he received as part of the bribery scheme.

Both men have denied any wrongdoing.

Last year, state-owned Petrobras put a $2 billion price tag on corruption related expenses in its long-delayed 2014 annual financial report.


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