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Authorities also ordered the freezing of assets worth 720 million reais ($277 million) belonging to 36 suspects and three companies. Photo: Bloomberg
Authorities also ordered the freezing of assets worth 720 million reais ($277 million) belonging to 36 suspects and three companies. Photo: Bloomberg

Second Petrobras director arrested in graft case

Former Petrobras director of engineering and services, Renato Duque, was arrested during a sweep by 30 police teams across the country

Sao Paulo: Brazilian police said on Friday they made 27 arrests, including the detention of a former official for state-owned oil giant Petrobras, as a multibillion kickbacks scandal deepened.

Former Petrobras director of engineering and services, Renato Duque, was arrested during a sweep by 30 police teams across the country.

Authorities also ordered the freezing of assets worth 720 million reais ($277 million) belonging to 36 suspects and three companies.

A police statement said 300 federal police, backed by 50 treasury officials, issued 85 warrants, making 27 arrests after searches in five states and the capital Brasilia as they widened investigations into a scandal dubbed “Operation Car Wash."

The statement added that there have been 11 searches of companies, including some top construction firms.

Trading in Petrobras stock was suspended in Sao Paulo shortly after the market opened, after the share price slumped some 13% on news of the arrests.

Thursday, the scandal-tainted firm—which is also the subject of an investigation by US authorities—announced it was delaying release of its third-quarter results because of ongoing “investigations regarding allegations of conspiracy, embezzlement and corruption" among other charges.

According to former Petrobras official Paulo Roberto Costa, the company paid millions of dollars to politicians and members of the ruling Workers Party between 2004 and 2012.

Costa, currently under house arrest, has been acting as whistle-blower as part of a plea bargain deal with prosecutors investing the scandal dubbed ‘Operation Car Wash’.

Police estimate more than 10 billion reais ($3.856 billion) of kickbacks were made in all.

Money dealer Alberto Youssef, detained along with Costa in March, claimed last month in testimony to investigators published by news magazine Veja that President Dilma Rousseff and predecessor Luiz Ino Lula da Silva knew about the kickbacks scheme.

Both angrily denied knowing anything about it.

Rousseff, a former board chair of Petrobras who served as energy minister under Lula, threatened to sue Veja for publishing the allegations, which now are the subject of an investigation by the courts as well as Congress. AFP

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