Tue | Dec 12, 2017

Brazil's new top prosecutor takes over massive graft probe

Published:Tuesday | September 19, 2017 | 12:00 AMBrazil's new attorney general took office on Monday amid questions about how aggressively she will pursue the country's massive corruption probe.
Newly appointed Attorney General Raquel Dodge attends her inauguration ceremony at the Attorney General office in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, September 18, 2017.

Raquel Dodge, 56, replaces Rodrigo Janot, who last week charged President Michel Temer with leading a criminal organisation and obstruction of justice. In July, he formally accused the president of corruption.

Temer appointed Dodge from a three-person list of nominees submitted by federal prosecutors. He passed over the top nominee, who is considered an ally of Janot.

The first woman to hold the position of attorney general in Brazil, Dodge said at her swearing-in ceremony that no one is above the law and that Brazilians "do not tolerate corruption and expect results".

She didn't mention the charges against Temer, who attended the event.

During his term in office, Janot played a key role in the so-called 'Car Wash' probe into inflated construction contracts and enormous kickbacks that has led to the jailing of dozens of the country's elite and charges against the current and former presidents.

charges and investigations

Janot's office brought 35 charges against political figures and opened 450 investigations into politicians, officials and business leaders. It reached 159 plea bargain deals that have been used to amass evidence against other suspects.

Dodge has a more reserved style, preferring lengthy investigations before bringing charges.

But she has shown a willingness to go after politicians. In 2010, she oversaw an investigation that led to the first arrest of a sitting governor in Brazilian history. Several allies of Temer were charged in the case.

It will be up for Dodge to decide whether Temer will be once more charged with corruption. Brazil's Supreme Court has authorised further investigations into allegations linking the president to alleged favours for a company.

Sceptics have criticised Dodge for holding an off-the-agenda visit with Temer after being nominated, and one of her staunchest supporters was Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes, who has been flamboyantly critical of the Car Wash prosecutions.

Celso Villardi, a criminal law professor at the Fundacao Getulio Vargas, a university and think tank, said he believes Dodge will face severe pressure, but won't shy away from Car Wash.

He noted she had extensive support from her peers, and said, "No prosecutor wants to block investigations."

In his final days in office Janot was hyperactive, bringing charges against several politicians, including former Presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff as well as Temer. The president could be suspended from his job if two-thirds of federal deputies decide to send the case for trial in the country's Supreme Court.

- AP