By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s federal police started Friday morning (November 14th) enforcing 36 arrest warrants and 49 search and seizure orders in the cities of Paraná, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, and Brasilia, as part of the on-going investigations into a multi-million reais money-laundering scheme known as ‘Operação Lava Jato’ (Operation Carwash).
Among those arrested are Renato Duque (former Petrobras Services director), João Ricardo Auler (President of the Board at construction company Camargo Correa), Dalton dos Santos Avancini and Eduardo Hermelino Leite (president and vice-president respectively of Camargo Correa).
Also Sérgio Cunha Mendes (vice-president of construction company Mendes Júnior), Gerson de Mello Almada (vice-president of Engevix), Valdir Lima Carreiro (president of infrastructure company IESA Oil & Gas), José Aldemário Pinheiro Filho (president of construction company OAS) and Ildefonso Colares Filho (director-president of construction company Queiroz Galvão).
In all three hundres federal agents were on hand at different locations throughout the country. The courts also blocked approximately R$720 million worth in assets belonging to the 36 individuals.
For opposition leader, Senator Aecio Neves, defeated in this year’s presidential campaign, the irregularities are clear signs of the irresponsibility of the government, “The irresponsibility of this government is denigrating the image and history of our greatest company, setting up according to the Federal Police a criminal organization,” he said to reporters on Friday after a meeting with PSDB (Brazilian Social Democracy Party) officials.
The Operation Lava Jato was launched in March of 2014 with the objective of dismantling criminal organizations which were involved in money laundering schemes and other crimes against Brazil’s financial system. The operation’s name is an allusion to the use of a network of laundrettes and gas stations by the group to convert money from illegal activities into legitimate funds.
Former Petrobras director, Paulo Roberto Costa, arrested at the beginning of the operation in March, entered a plea-bargaining deal with prosecutors for a lighter sentence by naming some of those who benefited from the schemes while he was a director at Petrobras (2004-2012).