BRASILIA -- Brazil's Supreme Court will investigate the speakers of both houses of Congress and 32 other sitting politicians in connection with a multibillion-dollar kickback scheme at state-controlled oil company Petrobras.
The scandal has shaken the political establishment and undermined support for President Dilma Rousseff, who was narrowly re-elected last year and is struggling to stave off an economic recession and a downgrade by credit rating agencies.
A court official said on Friday that 12 senators and 22 congressmen from five parties are under investigation, all but one from Rousseff's governing coalition. The most prominent are the president of the Senate, Renan Calheiros, and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, both of the PMDB, Brazil's largest party and Rousseff's main coalition ally.
The Progressive Party has 21 members under investigation, the PMDB six and the Workers' Party five, including Senator Gleisi Hoffmann, Rousseff's chief of staff during her first term. The party's treasurer João Vaccari will be investigated.
Only one opposition politician, Senator Antonio Anastasia, of the PSDB party, was on the list, which includes Senator Fernando Collor de Mello, a former president who resigned in 1992 to avoid impeachment for corruption.
Under Brazilian law, elected politicians can only be tried by the highest court, which must now decide with the help of prosecutors whether there is enough proof to put them on trial.