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By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Nestor Cerveró, former head of internationals at Petrobras, was arrested this morning (January 14th) when he disembarked at Rio’s Galeão airport coming from London by the Federal Police. The businessman is a suspect in the Lava-Jato (carwash) money laundering scandal and has been taken into preventive custody.

Ex-director of Petrobras, Nestor Cerveró, was arrested, photo by Wilson Dias/Agência Brasil.
Ex-director of Petrobras, Nestor Cerveró, was arrested, photo by Wilson Dias/Agência Brasil.

Cerveró will be transferred to Curitiba during the day, where other accused in the scandal are held as well. The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office justified the custody stating that the ex-director was in danger of “continuing to commit crimes and transfer goods to his family.”

Consequently, his house and those of relatives were searched, as Cerveró was suspected to have tried to transfer R$500,000 to his daughter. “We have to protect the public and economic order and prevent the continuation of crimes that have been committed by the ex-director,” the Prosecutor’s Office stated further.

Nestor Cerveró had been named a suspect in the Lava-Jato scandal by the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office in December 2014 for money laundering and corruption together with the main operator in the scandal Alberto Youssef and Fernando Antonio Falcão Soares of the PMDB, as well as various executives who had contracts with oil giant Petrobras.

Cerveró was named to be the one of the main beneficiaries of the bribing scheme surrounding the purchase of the Pasadena refinery in the United States. A deal that is reported to have generated losses of US$792 million for Petrobras.

The Lava-Jato operation by Brazil’s Federal Police aims at uncovering companies and individuals involved in a scheme of giving money to Petrobras officials for contract benefits involving around R$10 billion. It made its first arrests in March 2014, after federal investigators uncovered links between former Petrobras director for refining, Paulo Roberto Costa and Alberto Youssef, a black-market money dealer.

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