Live Rats in Brazil’s Congress Greet Workers’ Party Treasurer

A man released a box full of rats when the treasurer of President Dilma Rousseff’s Workers’ Party arrived to testify in the lower house of Congress.

When Joao Vaccari Neto entered the congressional committee investigating corruption in contracts with state-owned oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA, an observer released at least five rats on one side of the room. Police and congressmen in suits caught the rats and arrested the man.

Vaccari Neto, who has been party treasurer since 2010, was called to testify after police said he participated in a bribery scheme that funneled as much as $200 million from Petrobras contracts to political parties. The Workers’ Party says all campaign donations were made legally.

Vaccari Neto said in his testimony all donations were made with proper bank notation, evaluated by Brazil’s electoral court. He denied discussing political donations with former Petrobras executives who have been arrested and are cooperating with the police investigation in return for a lighter sentence.

The parliamentary inquiry is parallel to the police investigation of alleged corruption at Petrobras that has been in progress for more than a year.

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