3 former lawmakers arrested in Brazil graft case

GMT 18:55 2015 Friday ,10 April

Arab Today, arab today 3 former lawmakers arrested in Brazil graft case

Three former Brazilian lawmakers
Brasília - AFP

Three former Brazilian lawmakers have been detained as part of ongoing investigations into a huge graft scandal at state-owned oil firm Petrobras, authorities said Friday.

While several top politicians are facing charges in relation to the scandal, the three are the first lawmakers to be formally detained in the deepening investigation.

They were named as ruling Workers Party (PT) lawmaker Andre Vargas, Luiz Argolo of the Progressive Party (PP) and Pedro Correa, who remains a PP member, according to judicial sources in Curitiba where the investigation is based.

"The three have been detained," a spokesman told AFP from Curitiba.

Police have issued seven arrest warrants as part of the investigation's latest push, and are seeking 32 people for questioning, authorities said.

The scandal broke a year ago and has rocked the government of President Dilma Rousseff as it battles a slumping economy.

Three dozen politicians, including congressmen, senators and state governors have come under investigation so far.

Among those facing trial on charges of money laundering and receiving bribes is Workers Party treasurer Joao Vaccari.

His testimony at Congress was interrupted briefly Thursday when a protester unleashed several rodents at the hearing, sparking chaos.

The politicians are accused of receiving millions in bribes as part of a multibillion-dollar kickback scheme.

The scandal has wiped tens of billions of dollars off Petrobras' market value and forced it to delay publishing externally audited accounts from last year.

Rousseff, reelected to a second term in October, is not being investigated for lack of evidence implicating her, despite the fact she was Petrobras board chair during much of the period under review.

But the affair, coupled with the sinking economy, has seen her poll standings plummet towards single figures.  

Several businessmen from some of Brazil's biggest construction firms are also under investigation.


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