A former director of Brazil's state-owned oil giant Petrobras told a parliamentary committee investigating the company that the entire country is awash in corruption.
Paulo Roberto Costa, formerly a director of supplies who oversaw refining operations at Brazil's biggest and highest profile company, blew the whistle earlier this year on what he says was a multi-billion dollar kickback scheme benefiting dozens of politicians -- mostly allies of leftist President Dilma Rousseff.
On Tuesday, he told a congressional hearing that corruption was an accepted way of doing business within Brazil, and that Petrobras was no exception.
Costa added that he regretted becoming involved with politicians involved in a scam he said allowed politicians and intermediaries to pocket some $3.85 billion in kickbacks creamed off overcharged Petrobras contacts.
"What happened at the heart of Petrobras happens all around Brazil," said Costa, who blew the whistle on the scheme as part of a plea bargain after his arrest last March.
The graft includes major contracts "for highways, railways, ports, airports, dams," he said.
"It happens everywhere -- you just have to look around you."
In addition to politicians, some of Brazil's top companies, mainly construction firms, have become embroiled in the scandal and police have questioned dozens of suspects who have roundly denied accusations of wrongdoing.
Police detained both Costa and fellow former Petrobras director Nestor Cervero amid investigations into a scheme which Costa says started more than a decade ago.
Rousseff, a former Petrobras board chair, denies having had any knowledge of the kickbacks.
Costa, who spent 35 years with Petrobras, said he decided to open the lid on the graft as he "wasn't going to pay for everybody else" involved.
He added that since the return of democracy following the 1964-85 military dictatorship, anybody looking to be named a Petrobras director needed political backing.
"Sadly, I accepted the string-pulling in order to take over as supplies director," he said.
"I very much regret having taken on this post... I did so, and look where it got me."
The end of the session saw a bitter exchange between Costa and Cervero, formerly Petrobras' international area head, with the latter insisting he knew nothing about the culture of graft at the company.