Brazil police arrest former minister in Petrobras probe

SAO PAULO: Brazilian police arrested former Finance Minister Guido Mantega on Thursday as part of a sweeping corruption investigation into political kickbacks on contracts at state-run oil company Petroleo Brasiliero, according to a source close to the former minister.


In a statement, prosecutors said they were investigating a former minister who was chairman in 2012 of Petrobras, as the company is known, a description fitting Mantega. They did not name the minister.

Mantega served as finance minister for almost nine years under former presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, steering Latin America’s largest economy through boom and bust at the height of the leftist Workers Party’s rule.

Attorneys for Mantega did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Police carried out eight arrest warrants and 32 search and seizure warrants on Thursday, according to prosecutors, as they investigated the former minister and executives of engineering groups Mendes Junior and OSX Construção Naval SA, part of a commodities empire built by former billionaire Eike Batista.

Prosecutors said Batista had testified to a conversation in November 2012 in which the former minister presiding over the Petrobras board requested a payment of 5 million reais, or about $2.5 million at the time, to benefit the Workers Party.

Batista eventually made an overseas payment of $2.35 million to marketing executives previously tied to money laundering operations in the two-year-old Petrobras probe, according to prosecutors.