Portugal makes arrest in major Brazilian corruption probe

AP News
Posted: Mar 21, 2016 4:18 PM

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portuguese police arrested a suspect and carried out searches in Lisbon on Monday in connection with a major corruption investigation in Brazil that has ensnared senior politicians.

Brazilian police named the suspect as Raul Schmidt Felipe Junior and said he was arrested at his home in the Portuguese capital. The Portuguese attorney general's office said in a statement that the arrest was requested by Brazilian authorities as part of Operation Car Wash, which is investigating a massive kickback scheme.

No details of the investigation into Felipe Junior, who is not a well-known figure in Brazil, were provided but the website of Brazil's leading O Globo news network said he is a "financial operator," suspected of being a go-between for illicit payments. He is suspected of having helped funnel money to former Petrobras directors Jorge Zelada, Renato de Souza Duque e Nestor Cervero, who have all been detained in the corruption probe at the state-run oil giant, according to the report.

Felipe Junior is said to have joint Portuguese and Brazilian nationality. Brazil intends to request his extradition, according to the Portuguese attorney general's office.

Portuguese authorities also said Brazilian prosecutors assisted with the police operation, and that Portuguese police are working on further Brazilian cooperation requests.

Felipe Junior is the first Operation Car Wash suspect to be arrested outside Brazil.

Police have been extending the investigation's scope beyond Brazil's borders in recent times.

Investigators have also been scrutinizing Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, according to an internal document obtained in February by The Associated Press. They suspect Humala received $3 million in bribes from the large Brazilian construction company Odebrecht in exchange for contracts in Peru.

Brazilian prosecutors in the Petrobras investigation have alleged that more than $2 billion was paid in bribes by businessmen to obtain contracts with the oil company, projects that later ballooned in cost. Investigators allege that some money made its way to the coffers of Brazilian political parties from across the ideological spectrum.