By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This morning, Thursday, July 27th, the Federal Police in Brazil served court orders which included three temporary arrest and eleven search and seizure in the 42nd phase of Lava Jato (Car Wash). The main target was Aldemir Bendine, former head of Petrobras and Banco do Brasil (BB), according to a government news source.
In a statement released by the Federal Public Ministry in Paraná (MPF-PR), Bendine is suspected of receiving R$3 million in bribes paid by Odebrecht, the mega-construction company ensnared in the Lava Jato graft scandal.
Bendine was in charge of BB between April 17, 2009 and February 6, 2015, and was president of Petrobras between February 6, 2015 and May 30, 2016. According to the MPF-PR, there is also evidence that he asked Odebrecht AgroIndustrial for a pay-off.
“At a first opportunity, a request for a bribe of R$17 million made by Aldemir Bendine at the time he was president of the Banco do Brasil, to enable the rollover of debt financing Odebrecht AgroIndustrial.
Marcelo Odebrecht and Fernando Reis, Odebrecht executives who signed a landmark plea agreement with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, had reportedly denied the request for a bribe request because they understood that Bendine was not able to influence the financing agreement of Banco do Brasil,” says the statement.
In addition, according to the MPF, “there is evidence that, on the eve of assuming the presidency of Petrobras, which occurred on February 6, 2015, Aldemir Bendine and one of his financial operators again requested a pay-off from Marcelo Odebrecht and Fernando Reis.”
The statement continues, “This time the indications are that the request was made so that the Odebrecht business group was not prejudiced at Petrobras, including in relation to the consequences of Operation Lava Jato.”
Brazil’s biggest graft scandal, Lava Jato started off with a couple of federal prosecutors in Curitiba looking into allegations of one executive possibly receiving money in exchange of contracts was far more extensive than anyone previously imagined.
The investigations have led to the arrest of politicians, CEOs and executives from some of Brazil’s largest and most powerful companies. Figures like former Chamber of Deputies President, Eduardo Cunha, former Chief of Staff, Jose Dirceu and former Rio de Janeiro governor, Sergio Cabral, remain in jail.
At the three year anniversary mark in March, there were 23 people in prison in relation to the scandal, and 24 serving house arrest. Judges have already handed down more than 1,300 years of jail time to those charged.