World Bulletin / News Desk
Brazil's federal police issued arrest warrants for seven individuals Friday in the latest phase of a vast corruption probe focused on a sprawling kickback scheme at oil giant Petrobras.
Three former lawmakers are among those wanted by investigators at Operation Lava Jato, or Carwash, which has recently delved further into Brazilian's political realm as part of investigations into the country's biggest-ever corruption scandal.
Police confirmed the detention of two former congressmen – former federal deputies André Vargas of President Dilma Rousseff's Workers' Party, or PT, and Luiz Argôlo, who was part of the Progressive Party, or PP, and who is now a member of the Solidarity Party.
A third lawmaker, former PP deputy Pedro Corrêa, is already in jail for his involvement in a high-profile cash-for-votes scandal, known in Brazil as the Mensalão, or "big monthly payment," and will be moved to the southern city of Curitiba, where the other suspects are being held.
The four others arrested also had links with the politicians, the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper reported. The police action, which also included warrants for searches and confiscations, was coordinated across six states and the Federal District.
Investigators said their probe would now expand beyond state-run Petrobras to look into allegations of irregularities at Brazil's second-largest public bank, Caixa Econômica Federal, and the country's Health Ministry.
The Petrobras scandal continues to close in on Rousseff's government, which is also plagued by a weak economy and record-low approval ratings. Last month the Supreme Court named 47 politicians set to be investigated -- all but one from Rousseff's ruling coalition and a number from the PT.
Dozens of executives from Brazil's top construction and engineering companies have already been indicted.
Last Mod: 11 Nisan 2015, 11:35