Seven years after politicians in Brazil were first accused of vote-buying, supreme court trials for the 38 people charged with political corruption finally got underway in August.
The defendants are accused with using public funds to bribe lawmakers in the government of President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva in 2005. The list of those accused includes de Silva’s Chief of Staff, Jose Dirceu, high-ranking members of the Workers’ Party, as well as a who’s who of Sao Paulo’s banking and business leaders.
Known as the Mesalo scandal (meaning “big monthly allowance”), prosecutors allege funds were diverted from advertising budgets to ensure various pieces of legislation passed in Congress. The accused are charged with money-laundering, corruption, and accepting bribes but have denied the allegations.
Current President Dilma Rousseff is also a member of the Workers’ Party, though she has not been implicated in the scandal. Her removal of six ministers on suspicion of corruption contributed to a 77 percent approval rating when the charges finally went to trial.