By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – On Thursday morning (September 22nd), the 34th phase of the Lava Jato (Car Wash) investigation was put into action, with 180 police officers handing out 33 search warrants and eight arrest warrants in five states, including one for former Finance Minister, Guido Mantega.
“At this phase of the police operation we are investigating facts related to companies hired by Petrobras for the construction of two pre-salt oil exploration platforms (P-67 and P70),” said the statement issued by the federal police early Thursday morning. According to the statement, prosecutors are looking into companies and individuals for acts of corruption, fraud in bidding, conspiracy, and money laundering.
Local media is reporting that Mantega, former Finance Minister during Luis Inacio Lula da Silva’s and Dilma Rousseff’s administrations, was picked up by police at the hospital, where he was accompanying his wife who underwent a surgical procedure.
Brazil’s Federal Public Ministry released a document alleging that ‘despite having no tradition in the specific market of construction and integration of platforms’ the consortium formed by Mendes Junior and OSX signed a contract with Petrobras for US$922 million to construct the two pre-salt platforms.
The document also notes that former Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista, owner of OSX, while being questioned stated that in 2012 he gave R$5 million (US$2.35 million at the time) to the PT (Workers Party) at Mantega’s request. At the time the former Finance Minister was also the president of Petrobras’ Board of Administration.
Also being investigated during this phase of the mega-corruption scandal are corporate executives from construction giant Mendes Junior and Batista’s OSX Construção Naval (shipbuilding company).