Brazil police launch raids, target Dilma's campaign chief in graft probe

World Monday 22/February/2016 18:26 PM
By: Times News Service
Brazil police launch raids, target Dilma's campaign chief in graft probe

Sao Paulo/Rio De Janeiro: Federal investigators on Monday launched a round of arrests and raids targeting the manager of President Dilma Rousseff's election campaigns and Brazil's largest engineering group in the latest stage of the nation's biggest corruption probe.
Prosecutors said in a statement they were also looking into possible bribes paid off contracts signed by state-run oil company Petrobras and shipbuilder Sete Brasil with Keppel Fels, the Brazil unit of Singapore's oil rig builder Keppel Corporation Ltd.
The statement said Jõao Santana, Rousseff's campaign manager, was suspected of receiving bribes in offshore accounts. TV station O Globo said he was currently out of the country. Santana and his lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.
Nicknamed the "maker of presidents", Santana, 63, also advised Rousseff's predecessor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in his re-election bid in 2012.
His involvement in the investigation is a further blow to embattled President Dilma Rousseff, who is not being investigated in the scandal but has seen her popularity. The former ruling Workers' Party Treasurer and a top aide to former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have also been arrested.
Police said they had court orders for eight arrests without giving names in the ongoing "Operations Car Wash" corruption investigation that started nearly two years ago.
Brazilian engineering giant Odebrecht SA, one of the main companies at the centre of the scandal, said its offices in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and in Salvador were searched by police and that it would collaborate with authorities.
Prosecutors said the 23rd phase of the two-year-old investigation had brought more incriminating evidence against Marcelo Odebrecht, the former CEO of the engineering group who has been jailed since June.
Keppel Corporation said in October it may face an investigation into deals with Petrobras and Sete Brasil.
A spokesperson for Keppel in Brazil strongly rejected any allegations of bribery.
More than 300 officers conducted searches and arrests in the cities of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, the federal police said.
The nationwide Car Wash operation began uncovering kickbacks in state companies nearly two years ago.
Dozens of executives and politicians have been arrested or are under investigation on suspicion of overcharging Petróleo Brasileiro SA, as Petrobras is formally known, and other state firms on contracts and using part of the proceeds to bribe members of Rousseff's ruling coalition.