Reuters International

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian Senator Gleisi Hoffmann and her husband, who both served in the ousted government of former President Dilma Rousseff, were indicted on Tuesday by the Supreme Court on corruption and money laundering charges in the Petrobras graft investigation.

Hoffmann, who was chief of staff to Rousseff during her first term, and husband Paulo Bernardo, will stand trial for allegedly receiving 1 million reais ($309,000) in kickback money to illegally fund her 2010 Senate election campaign.

As an elected official, Hoffmann can only be tried by the Supreme Court and five justices on the top court ruled unanimously to accept the charges against her.

She is the third sitting politician to go on trial in the massive bribery and kickback scandal uncovered two years ago at state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA.

The corruption scandal contributed to the removal of Rousseff in an impeachment trial in August, ending 13 years of leftist Workers Party rule.

Prosecutors said Bernardo, who was Rousseff's communications minister, requested the funds from former Petrobras supply director Paulo Roberto Costa when he was planning minister in the previous Workers Party-led government of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The money was used in Hoffmann's campaign and never declared to electoral authorities, they said.

Lawyers for the couple said the alleged donation to Hoffmann's campaign never existed and rejected the "extremely fragile" allegations against Bernardo as false presumption. They said Bernardo as a minister had no influence over Costa.

(Reporting by Eduardo Simões; writing by Marcelo Teixeira, editing by G Crosse)


 Reuters International