SAO PAULO – A federal judge Thursday accepted the charges filed by prosecutors against the former head of Eletronuclear, the state-owned company that operates Brazil's two nuclear power plants, for his suspected role in a bribery scandal.
Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva will face trial for allegedly taking 4.5 million reals ($1.22 million) in bribes from construction companies for contracts involving the construction of the Angra 3 nuclear plant in Rio de Janeiro.
Judge Sergio Fernando Moro said in a statement that he also accepted the charges filed against 14 others, including Flavio David Barra, the top energy executive at construction firm Andrade Gutierrez and da Silva's daughter, Ana Cristina Toniolo.
During Brazil's military regime from 1964-1985, da Silva, a retired navy admiral and nuclear engineer, headed Brazil's secret program to master the technology needed to transform uranium into fuel to generate electric power in nuclear plants. Da Silva also oversaw the ongoing project to build a nuclear-powered submarine.
Judge Moro's acceptance of the charge comes as police and prosecutors try to determine whether a kickback scheme engulfing state-run oil company Petrobras extends to other state firms, including electric utilities company Eletrobras, of which Eletronuclear is a subsidiary. He is in charge of the investigation.
Prosecutors have said the scheme involved roughly $2 billion in bribes and other illegal funds. Some of that money was allegedly funneled back to the ruling Workers' Party and its allies' campaign coffers. It also allegedly included the payment of bribes to Petrobras executives in return for inflated contracts.