Suspect linked to Petrobras scandal arested in Portugal
A Portuguese-Brazilian businessman was arrested in Lisbon on Monday on suspicion of corruption and money laundering in connection with Brazil's Petrobras scandal, an informed source told AFP.
“Raul Schmidt Felippe Junior was arrested this morning at an apartment in central Lisbon where he had been in hiding for some months,” the source told AFP.
The arrest came “at the request of Brazilian authorities in the presence of a prosecutor in charge of Operation Car Wash,” the source said, using the name for Brazil’s probe into a huge web of corruption involving state oil giant Petrobras.
Portuguese authorities did not name Schmidt, saying only they had arrested a “Portuguese-Brazilian citizen, adding Brasilia had indicated it wished to see him extradited.
Brazilian investigators suspect Schmidt of acting as an intermediary for jailed former Petrobras director Jorge Zelada and of paying bribes to other former company directors.
Brazilian media last year said the pair were linked through association with a Swiss-based solar energy company.
Zelada was arrested last July and sentenced to 12 years and two months in jail in February for corruption and money laundering.
He was found to have received kickbacks in a huge scandal which saw Petrobras executives, their partners in crime and politicians divide up some $2 billion (1.7 billion euros).
The investigation has revealed that some of Brazil’s biggest construction companies colluded with Petrobras executives to concoct massively-inflated contracts.
The fallout has rocked Brazil and could yet bring down the government of Dilma Rousseff, a former chairman of the board at Petrobras.
Much of the cash was funnelled to political parties to help bankroll electoral campaigns.
As Rousseff battles attempts to impeach her, her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also stands accused of involvement in the scheme.
Both Rousseff and Lula deny any knowledge of the affair.