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  • Senator Delcidio Amaral is the first sitting Brazilian legislator to be arrested in the Petrobas corruption scandal.

    Senator Delcidio Amaral is the first sitting Brazilian legislator to be arrested in the Petrobas corruption scandal. | Photo: AFP

Published 5 December 2015

​Brazil’s governing party suspended its former Senate leader after he was arrested in connection to a corruption scandal involving the state oil company.

Delcidio Amaral was arrested Nov. 25 after authorities said he had been caught on tape discussing plans to help former Petrobras executive Nestor Cervero flee the country in return for not implicating Amaral in any wrongdoing.

Cervero was jailed for just over 12 years in August after he was found guilty of playing a key role in a Petrobras corruption and money laundering scheme. A number of prominent Brazilian officials have been accused of accepting bribes and pocketing Petrobras revenues.

The Workers’ Party is currently conducting an internal investigation into the charges and will decide in the coming weeks whether to expel Amaral, who has already been suspended for 60 days.

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President Dilma Rousseff’s party has distanced itself from Amaral, who represents the state of Mato Grosso do Sul in the Brazilian senate, since his arrest.

"None of the acts attributed to the senator is connected to his activities for the party. For that reason, the Workers’ Party does not feel obliged to lend him any solidarity," Rui Falcao, Workers’ Party president, said in a statement.

Former president of Brazil and Workers’ Party leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has also openly criticized Amaral.

The arrest has shocked many within Brazil due to Amaral’s key role in the Rousseff administration. He was the first sitting senator to be formally charged in the Petrobras scandal.

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Although President Rousseff has not been implicated in the scandal, there have been a number of allegations leveled against senior members of the Workers’ Party, which has led to a rapid decrease in her popularity since her re-election last year.

Brazil’s lower house announced Wednesday that lawmakers are looking to impeach the incumbent president.

One of Brazil's richest men, billionaire banker Andre Esteves, was also arrested Nov. 26 after being accused of trying to help Cervero flee to Spain.

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