By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In a new phase of the Lava Jato Operation, Brazil’s Federal Police arrested thirteen politicians and businessmen in Rio on Tuesday, November 14th. They are accused of crimes ranging from corruption, criminal association, money laundering and tax evasion.
Among the indicted ones are Felipe Picciani, son of Jorge Picciani, president of ALERJ (Legislative Assembly of Rio’s State) and Jacob Barata Filho, son of Jacob Barata, great entrepreneur of Rio’s public bus service.
Led by the Federal Public Ministry and the Federal Police, the action started six months ago with investigations involving entrepreneurs from the public transport sector and Rio’s State deputies.
Besides the thirteen arrest warrants, Police are also consolidating 35 coercive conduction warrants, addressed to politicians like Edson Albertassi, the government’s current leader of Rio’s Legislative Assembly.
According to the investigations, the elected officials of Rio’s State received bribes in order to favor FETRANSPOR (Federation of Rio de Janeiro’s Transport Companies), a representative organ for companies from this sector – especially bus’ companies.
Accused of money laundering, Felipe Picciani was arrested today around 6AM in Minas Gerais, where he runs his family’s farm. He will be taken to the headquarters of Rio’s Federal Police in order to give testimony.
Jacob Barata Filho, who was first arrested in July but was released in August, is accused of bribing public agents in exchange for advantages for his bus company, Grupo Guanabara. The Federal Public Ministry alleges that this corruption scheme would have been led by Sergio Cabral, Rio’s former governor, condemned by Lava Jato.
“The investigation clearly points to elected officials acting in favor of FETRANSPOR’s interests. It also indicates that the accused politicians had a great asset development that is completely incompatible with their salary as deputies,” claim the Federal Police.
Besides Barata Filho and Picciani, another important name involved in this action is Lélis Teixeira, former president of FETRANSPOR who was first arrested in July, but released in August, like Barata Filho. Teixeira would have been the responsible person for paying the bribes to the lawmakers, according to the Federal Police.
This action is a result of a six-month investigation that included the arrest of politicians, CEOs and executives from some of Brazil’s largest and most powerful companies.