By Brad Brooks
| SAO PAULO
SAO PAULO Federal prosecutors on Friday leveled corruption charges against Eike Batista, Brazil's one-time richest man, along with a ex-Rio de Janeiro governor who allegedly took millions in bribes from the former billionaire, one of his nation's most boisterous backers amid a now busted commodities boom.Seven others were also charged for helping facilitate the alleged graft, and hiding the money by creating offshore shell firms for Batista, 60, who five years ago had a net worth exceeding $30 billion and was considered one of the world's 10 richest people. Batista has been jailed since Jan. 30 when he voluntarily returned to Rio from New York after four days as a fugitive.In an emailed statement, prosecutors said the money was paid to ex-Rio de Janeiro Governor Sergio Cabral so that Batista's enterprises would win lucrative government contracts. Those included Batista being part of the consortium that ran the Maracana stadium that hosted the 2014 World Cup final match and the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics, along with the construction of the $3.7 billion Port of Açu, since 2013 controlled by Prumo Logistica, which is 74-percent owned by Washington, D.C.-based EIG Energy Partners.
Prosecutors allege Batista paid Cabral $16.5 million in 2011 - about one-fourth in cash and the rest in stocks in state-run oil company Petrobras, the miner Vale and beverage company Ambev, now known as AB InBev.Prosecutors also charged Cabral's wife, the lawyer Adriana Ancelmo, for receiving 1 million reais ($320,821) from Batista for legal services they say were never offered. "It is clear that a set of actions carried out by the public agent in question are related to the interests of the private individual," the prosecutor's statement said in reference to Cabral and Batista.
It will now be up to a federal judge in Rio to determine if those accused on Friday will stand trial. It is not clear when that ruling may occur.The oil companies OGX Petroleo e Gas SA and Oleo e Gas Participações SA and mining company MMX, which were founded by Batista, have said he no longer held administrative roles, and his legal woes would have no impact on them.Cabral and his wife are already facing a separate trial on graft charges before Brazil's crusading anti-corruption judge Sergio Moro, a trial set to open next month.
In that case, Cabral is accused of leading a "criminal organization" that took 224 million reais in bribes from construction firms in exchange for infrastructure contracts from 2007 to 2014, when he was serving as governor.($1 = 3.1164 reais) (Reporting by Brad Brooks; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
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Updated Date: Feb 10, 2017 22:32 PM