EFEBrasilia

Brazil's Supreme Court on Friday cleared the way for prosecutors to investigate the heads of the country's two houses of Congress and 45 other politicians, including 34 legislators and three former Cabinet ministers, for their alleged role in a corruption scandal centered on state-controlled oil giant Petrobras.

The top court gave prosecutors authorization to probe dozens of politicians, the vast majority of them from parties that are part of the ruling coalition, over a kickback scheme believed to have cost Petrobras billions of dollars.

Justice Teori Zavascki released the list late Friday in response to a petition from the Attorney General's Office.

The political groupings implicated in the case are the governing Workers Party, or PT, the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, or PMDB, of Vice President Michel Temer, as well as two other coalition allies: the Progressive Party and the Brazilian Labor Party.

The Supreme Court only authorized the investigation of one opposition politician - Antonio Anastasia of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party.

The biggest names on the list are the president of the Senate, Renan Calheiros, and the speaker of the lower house, Eduardo Cunha, both of the PMDB.

Among the senators who will be investigated are former Energy and Mines Minister Edison Lobao of the PMDB, a top aide to President Dilma Rousseff during her first term in office.

Petrobras, which represents 12 percent of Brazilian GDP, is currently under investigation following disclosure of widespread corruption said to have cost the company billions of dollars since the mid-1990s.

The scandal involves accusations that some of Brazil's leading engineering and construction companies formed a cartel to overcharge for Petrobras contracts.

Those outside companies then allegedly split the extra money with corrupt Petrobras officials while setting aside some of the loot to pay off politicians who provided cover for the graft.

The scandal has led to the resignation of top company executives, including Maria das Gracas Silva Foster, who was replaced as Petrobras' CEO by Aldemir Bendine, former chief executive of state-run bank Banco do Brasil.

As a result of the scandal, formal charges have already been filed against three of Petrobras' former directors and executives from several of the country's leading construction firms.