Brazil investigator says definitive moment of probe is near

SAO PAULO - Next year's elections in Brazil will be "the final battle" in the nearly four-year-long probe into the largest corruption scandal in the country's history, according to the head of the prosecution task force conducting the investigation.

Deltan Dallagnol told reporters on Monday that the general election could bring congressmen who want to continue to fight against corruption, or those who want to halt it "out of a sense of preservation."

The Car Wash probe has led to convictions of dozens of business executives and politicians. About half the current congress members face corruption probes.

The investigation has uncovered embezzlement and bribery through the Brazilian government, legislature and corporate world, especially in Petrobras, Brazil's state oil company.

Brazilians will vote for president, 513 members of the lower house of congress and two thirds of the 81-seat Senate in October.

The new congressmen and senators "will determine whether there is a retreat in the fight against corruption or if there will be reforms and advances that create a fairer country," Dallagnol said.

Meanwhile, a federal court Tuesday rejected an appeal filed by the attorneys of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to free his assets that were frozen in July after he was sentenced to almost 10 years in prison for allegedly accepting bribes from an engineering firm in the form of a beach front apartment in return for his help in winning contracts with Petrobras.

At the time, Judge Sergio Moro, who sentenced da Silva, said the former president's bank account and property were worth at least $4 million.


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