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Brazil Makes Third Round of Searches and Arrests in Carwash Case

Thursday, 05 Feb 2015 08:23 AM

Brazilian police are undertaking a third major round of searches and arrests in an investigation into alleged kickback scheme that's engulfing state-run oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA and threatens Brazil's economic revival.

Of 62 court orders, one is for preventative custody, three are for temporary custody and 40 are for searches in the states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Bahia and Santa Catarina, according to a federal police statement sent by e-mail. Eighteen other people were brought in for questioning.

Those involved may be charged with fraud, corruption, money laundering and criminal associations, said the police, which is holding a press conference in Curitiba on Thursday.

The latest police actions come as prosecutors investigating the case prepare to charge construction companies with colluding to win contracts with Petrobras, Carlos Lima, a prosecutor in the case, said in an interview. The contractors, whose executives are also being investigated for bribery and laundering, will face charges of forming a cartel to manipulate bidding for Petrobras work, he said at the time.

To date, only individuals and not companies have been charged in the case dubbed Carwash.

Builders have become the focus of Carwash, which began as a laundering probe. Police arrested executives and undertook searches in November, saying they found evidence that at least seven contractors rigged bidding processes as part of a kickback scheme.

A month later executives from six builders were charged for crimes including corruption and laundering. Petrobras is still gaging the cost of the scheme, which is delaying the release of earnings, keeping it out of debt markets and led to the resignation of six senior executives.

Prosecutors are coordinating with Brazil's antitrust agency Cade, which is conducting its own investigation into suspected collusion between Petrobras contract bidders.

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Brazilian police are undertaking a third major round of searches and arrests in an investigation into alleged kickback scheme that's engulfing state-run oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA and threatens Brazil's economic revival.
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2015-23-05
Thursday, 05 Feb 2015 08:23 AM
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