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Fake death? Brazil may exhume alleged mastermind in Petrobras graft plot

While Brazilian police have been busy rounding up suspects in the Petrobras probe, investigators are now looking six feet under for more answers about the multi billion-dollar corruption scheme.

Members of Brazil’s congress have asked to exhume the corpse of late politician José Janene, amid rumors that the alleged kingpin behind the corruption may have faked his own death, the Financial Times said.

A spokesperson for Brazilian politician Hugo Motta said an unnamed source told Motta that Janene faked his death in 2010 and is now living in Central America.

Investigators want to exhume the politician’s remains and conduct DNA tests to determine if he faked his own death, as black market money man Alberto Youssef has also claimed in a leniency agreement with prosecutors.

Janene, who is believed to have died at age 55 from heart disease, allegedly orchestrated a bribery scheme at state-owned Petrobras that cost the company an estimated $2 billion.

The congressional commission spearheading the investigation is also expected to call Janene’s widow, Stael Fernanda Janene, to testify, the Financial Times said.

Brazilian investigators have uncovered an elaborate alleged conspiracy between Petrobras employees, politicians and engineering and construction firms to inflate the price of Petrobras contracts and skim off the the excess funds.

The scheme, believed to stretch back at least two years, has landed several Petrobras employees in jail and forced former CEO Maria das Graças Silva Foster to resign in February.

Prosecutors have identified 54 political figures suspected of being involved in the scheme, many of whom are members of the ruling Workers’ Party.

Last week, Petrobras filed five joint lawsuits against engineering and construction firms to recover about $424 million allegedly tied to corruption.


Nicolas Torres is a reporter for Petro Global News, where a version of this post first appeared.

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  1. Just a side note; Janene was not the mastermind behind Petrobras bribery case. Three political parties, inlcuding the President's Workers Party (PT), has one representative each responsible for the scheme. The funds were funneled to each of the three parties, and Janene is suspected of being the representative of PP (Progressive Party) in the scheme.

    Paulo Roberto Costa and Renato Duque were the other two persons of interest on behalf of each party.

    And Youssef, believe it or not, signed off on Janene's death certificate as a witness, which raised even more red flags on his death.

  2. I believe that Janene´s death must be checked indeed.

    However, it is quite interesting this new fact being presented at the same time Ricardo Pessoa (the big boss from UTC and "The Bribery Club") is about to speak out to the Federal Police.

    Perhaps the fire is getting to close to the big boys on the room…(Lula, Dirceu, BNDES, Eletrobras, Transpetro, Odebrecht, etc.). If so, nothing better than the old and safe "factoid"…


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