Brazil's Congress -- a den of corruption

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Brasília (AFP) - Brazil's Senate is big on decorum, not even letting men in without a coat and tie. But when it comes to corruption allegations, the politicians judging suspended president Dilma Rousseff seem less worried.

Analysis by corruption watchdog Transparencia Brasil reveals that 59 percent of the 81 Senate members who will vote on Rousseff's impeachment have been convicted or been investigated for crimes at some point.

It is the same proportion in the lower house, whose 513 deputies first ignited the impeachment process now in its final stage in the Senate.

Rousseff is accused of illegally manipulating government accounts to mask the depth of the economic crisis. However, her alleged crime, which she argues is an accounting maneuver used by several previous governments, does not suggest personal corruption or common crime.

The same cannot be said of many of those sitting in Congress in recent years with rap sheets ranging from embezzlement and vote buying to murder.

- Big fish -

Those implicated in crimes include some of Brazil's most illustrious figures.

Senate president Renan Calheiros is accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes, along with dozens of other politicians and leading business figures, in a corruption network that fleeced billions from state oil giant Petrobras.

Another big name is Senator Aecio Neves, the opposition candidate whom Rousseff only narrowly beat for her reelection in 2014.

Neves, a major impeachment supporter, would like to run again in 2018. He is being investigated for bribe taking and has come under fire for his family's secret bank account in Liechtenstein.

In the lower house, the standout among a host of tarnished politicians is Eduardo Cunha who as speaker was key to getting the impeachment trial moving.

Cunha is being prosecuted for alleged bribe taking and he is also accused of lying to Congress about possession of Swiss bank accounts. After long resistance, he resigned his post in July, but has yet to be ejected from Congress.

- More to come? -

The Petrobras probe, known as Operation Car Wash, continues to throw up surprises as suspects enter tell-all plea bargains with prosecutors.

One of the highest-profile targets in the crosshairs is Rousseff's mentor and predecessor as president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Now a fresh wave of revelations is expected from a plea bargain negotiated by Marcelo Odebrecht, the former head of Brazilian construction behemoth Odebrecht, and one of the linchpins in the Petrobras corruption scheme.

Leaked reports in the Brazilian media the last few weeks have pointed to collusion between Odebrecht and Michel Temer, the acting president who will take over from Rousseff if her impeachment is confirmed next week.

Although no charges have been leveled against Temer, reports that he and close allies took substantial political donations from a tycoon who was bribing politicians on an industrial scale are at the very least embarrassing.

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