RIO DE JANEIRO, May 15 (UPI) -- Four former members of the Brazilian Congress were charged with money laundering and other crimes tied to corruption at state-run oil refiners Petrobras.
The charges Thursday against Andre Vargas, Luiz Argolo, Pedro Correa and Aline Correa stem from a case in which Petrobras and some of the country's largest construction firms allegedly colluded with about 50 current and former politicians in a bribery scheme estimated by prosecutors to be worth about $2 billion. Petrobras is accused of taking in profits from inflated contracts and paying off legislators and political parties.
Federal prosecutor Deltan Dellagnol said more public officials will be charged. Those charged Thursday each deny involvement in the scheme.
Since the investigation began in March 2014, four former Petrobras executives, and at least 23 construction company executives, have been charged with corruption and money laundering. Some have admitted guilt in plea deals.
The charges came the day before Petrobras Brasilieiro S.A., a $65 billion giant in the global oil industry, will announce its first quarter earnings. The value of common stock in the company fell by nearly 50 percent when the government investigation was announced, but has recovered about 30 percent of the losses thus far in 2015. The earnings will be announced after North American markets close Friday.