By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Federal police in Brazil have issued a warrant for the arrest of billionaire businessman Eike Batista and eight others charging them with the money laundering of approximately US$100 million in the Lava Jato (Carwash) corruption scandal.
Police officers went to the Batista’s house early Thursday morning but were unable to find the billionaire.
According to delegate Tacio Muzzi, Batista would have left the country on Tuesday, January 24th. “There is a flight manifest for American Airlines that may list his name,” said the law officer during a press conference on Thursday morning.
Muzzi however, said that there were unconfirmed reports that Batista may have used his German passport to leave the country, but there is no indication that he knew about the operation and was fleeing the country.
Batista’s lawyer says the billionaire is in New York on business and is making arrangements to come back to Brazil as soon as possible. “We are in contact with the Federal Police and the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, and his [Batista] intention is to cooperate with these entities, as he has always cooperated, and to return as soon as possible,” the lawyer is quoted as saying by Agencia Brasil.
According to prosecutors the nine have been charged not only with money laundering but active corruption, passive corruption and being part of a criminal organization. Four of those charged were arrested this morning and three others had already been arrested in a previous operation, including former Rio de Janeiro governor, Sergio Cabral.
Prosecutors say that there is evidence that Eike Batista had business with Adriana Ancelmo, Cabral’s wife. The investigation found that Batista paid Cabral the amount of US$16.5 million, putting the money in Cabral’s foreign accounts. The amounts were paid through a company owned by Batista.
In addition to the arrest warrants, four bench warrants and 22 search and seizure warrants are being served in Rio de Janeiro. The warrants were issued by the 7th Federal Criminal Court. The action is an offshoot of Operation Calicute, which last year arrested former governor Sérgio Cabral.