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Brazil's ex-president Collor is charged in Petrobras graft case

[BRASÍLIA] Brazilian ex-president was formally charged on Tuesday in connection with the massive Petrobras corruption scandal, allegedly taking some nine million dollars.

Collor, who was in office from 1990-1992 and is now a senator, was charged formally with "passive corruption", money laundering and racketeering.

That followed the federal Supreme Court's unanimous decision to allow Collor to be tried despite his immunity as a lawmaker. It did, however, reject additional obstruction of justice and embezzlement charges.

Collor, who resigned as president amid corruption allegations, became the third senator to be formally charged in the investigation of the mega-scandal, after Gleisi Hoffmann and Valdir Raupp.

Prosecutors say Collor took bribes worth about nine million dollars between 2010 and 2014 in connection with a number of transactions at BR Distribuidora, a Petrobras subsidiary.

Collor, who was the first democratically elected president after the 1964-85 military regime, did not immediately comment on the latest development in his case.

Dozens of senior leaders across the political spectrum and high-ranking businessmen have been investigated or convicted since the sprawling corruption scandal began in 2014.

The investigation has centered on Petrobras, the state-run oil company, where inflated construction contracts were used by business leaders and politicians to siphon off billions of dollars.

In July ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was convicted of graft - and vowed an appeal - in the largest scalp yet of the investigation and a stunning blow to the leftist's prospects for political comeback.