By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Federal police officials in Brazil arrested Congressional representative, Candido Vaccarezza this morning (August 18th) as it launched the 43rd and 44th phases of Operação Lava Jato (Car Wash). The operations also include illicit dealings between Petrobras directors and Greek ship owners.
This is the first time two phases of the Lava Jato Operation has taken place at the same time. In the latest two phases, dubbed Sem Fronteiras (Without Borders) and Abate (Slaughter), officials focused their investigations in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Vaccarezza is being investigated as part of Operation Abate. According to officials, the police action aims to dismantle a criminal group sponsored by the former lawmaker, whose influence was used to obtain Petrobras contracts with foreign companies.
“In this criminal relation, resources were directed to bribe state executives and public and political agents, in addition to the ex-lawmaker himself,” read the statement issued by the federal police on Friday. According to news outlet G1 Vaccarezza received R$500,000 for his involvement.
The former Congressional representative was the PT’s (Workers Party) government leader in the Chamber of Deputies during the administrations of Presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff.
In Operation Sem Fronteiras, police investigate the relationship between executives of Petrobras and foreign ship owners, who sought to obtain privileged information and favor the acquisition of million dollar contracts with the Brazilian company, is being investigated.
According to police the investigation involves Greek ship owners and even a Greek diplomat stationed in Brazil in illicit dealings with Petrobras.
“The findings made it possible to conclude that the then (Petrobras) Director (Paulo Roberto Costa) arranged with Greece’s honorary consul in Brazil, Konstantinos Kotronakis, a scheme to facilitate the hiring of Greek vessels by providing privileged information and bribes,” said a statement issued by the federal prosecutors’ office
Along with Vaccarezza, another five temporary arrest warrants were issued, 29 search and seizure court orders served, and eleven people taken in for questioning.