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Brazilian president fires officials tied to bribery scandal

Brazilian president fires officials tied to bribery scandalRio de Janeiro, Nov 25 - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has ordered the dismissal of all public officials implicated in a new corruption scandal.

The decision Saturday comes a day after a federal police operation in Sao Paulo and Brasilia resulted in the arrests of six of 18 suspected members of a ring accused of bribe-taking, document forgery, influence-peddling and other crimes.

The individuals under investigation include the head of the Regional Office of the Presidency in Sao Paulo, Rosemary Novoa de Noronha, and top officials at the National Water Agency and the National Civil Aviation Agency.

All officials formally charged in the bribery case will be removed from their posts, the Planalto presidential palace said in a statement.

Novoa de Noronha once served as secretary to Jose Dirceu, a former presidential chief of staff who was sentenced this month to nearly 11 years in prison for his role in a congressional vote-buying scheme during the first two years of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's 2003-2011 tenure.

The corruption case that resulted in Dirceu's conviction was dubbed the "trial of the century" in Brazil.

The federal police Friday searched the headquarters of the Regional Office of the Presidency in Sao Paulo looking for documents that might be used as evidence in the case.

Also dismissed was Jose Weber Holanda, the No. 2 in the Office of the Solicitor General.

The bribery scheme was allegedly headed by brothers Paulo and Rubens Vieira, director of the National Water Agency and No. 2 in the National Civil Aviation Agency, respectively.

Both were arrested Friday and also have been dismissed from their posts.

Officials with the National Aquatic Transport Agency, the Federal Assets Division, the federal accountability office and the Education Ministry also have reportedly been implicated in the case.

The federal police's superintendent in Sao Paulo, Roberto Troncon Filho, said the suspects received bribes from business leaders for expediting paperwork and for drawing up "tailor-made" technical reports.

The investigation was launched in March after a public official in the TCU federal accountability office told authorities he was offered 300,000 reais (about $145,000) to prepare a favourable technical report for a business group.

The functionary initially accepted the arrangement and received an advance payment, but he later returned the money and reported the bribe to the federal police. (IANS)