By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The state of Rio de Janeiro has seen two former governors arrested in the last two days. Former governor, Anthony Garotinho, was arrested on Wednesday, November 16th, accused of vote tampering, and less than 24 hours later, former governor Sérgio Cabral was arrested early Thursday, November 17th, accused of receiving kickbacks from state construction works totaling R$220 million.
The kickbacks are linked to the Operação Lava Jato (Carwash Operation) corruption scandal. According to the federal police, there is strong evidence that Cabral was involved in the creation of a cartel to administrate and execute large construction venues, including the restoration of Maracanã Stadium, using federal resources.
Investigators state that the contracts were won through the payment of bribes to public agents, including Cabral. Cabral served two terms as governor of Rio de Janeiro state. Neither Cabral nor his lawyers released press statements about possible involvement in the Lava Jato investigations.
Anthony Garotinho served, starting in 1999, as governor of Rio de Janeiro, stepping down in 2002 to become a Presidential candidate. The politician surprised political analysts by coming in third place in the Presidential run-offs. Throughout the years, however, Garotinho, has often been linked to corruption and fraud scandals. After an unsuccessful bid to return to the governor’s mansion in 2014, he now works as a municipal secretary in Campos dos Goytacazes where his wife Rosinha Matheus is currently mayor.
Garotinho’s lawyers say that the arrest was arbitrary and that there is no concrete proof that the politician, now working as municipal secretary for his wife, had anything to do with the purchasing of votes in the October municipal elections.