Luiz Estevao, booted from Brazil's Senate 12 years ago for corruption, has pledged to return 468 million reais ($234 million) he diverted from the public coffers, authorities said Thursday.

Touting what she described as "the largest recovery of public money ... in the history of the country or, perhaps, the world," chief prosecutor Helia Beterro said the achievement puts Brazil "at the head of the battle against corruption."

The agreement, which follows a court ruling against the disgraced former senator, calls for Estevao to make an immediate payment of 80 million reais ($40 million) and to hand over the rest of the money in 96 monthly installments.

The 62-year-old banker and construction magnate is one of Brazil's richest people.

Estevao entered in politics in 1994 as a member of the municipal assembly in Brasilia and was elected to the federal Senate four years later.

In 2000, he was accused of taking part in a scheme to embezzle 169 million reais ($85 million) in funds meant for the construction of a new courthouse in Sao Paulo.

The accusation led in June of that year to Estevao's becoming the first Brazilian senator to be removed from office since 1826.

Estevao's agreement to return looted public money comes amid what Brazilian media have dubbed the "trial of the century," with three former Cabinet ministers among the 37 defendants facing charges for a congressional vote-buying scandal that came to light in 2005. EFE