Brazil Ex-Minister Arrested Over Scandal

Ex-finance minister, Antonio Palocci, was detained in Sao Paulo, Brazil.Ex-finance minister, Antonio Palocci, was detained in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Former Brazilian finance minister, Antonio Palocci, has been arrested in connection with a long-running inquiry into corruption at oil giant Petrobras.

Prosecutors said he had maintained a “criminal relationship” with officials at a construction conglomerate.

His lawyer said he was innocent and called the arrest a “spectacle”. Dozens of politicians and Petrobras executives have been arrested and sentenced after a two-year anti-corruption investigation, BBC reported.

The investigation, called the “Car Wash operations” has unveiled a massive corruption scheme at Petrobras.

In a news conference, prosecutors said Palocci had favored construction giant Odebrecht while in government. They said he had facilitated contracts with Petrobras and helped the group obtain credit from a state bank in exchange for donations to the governing Workers’ Party.

Palocci is alleged to have continued to intermediate bribes even after he left office.

Last week, police temporarily detained another former finance minister, Guido Mantega, also on charges related to the same probe. He was released hours later because his wife was about to undergo surgery.

Earlier this month, a judge ruled that former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, would face trial on corruption charges over the Petrobras scandal.

Palocci served as a finance minister under Lula and as chief of staff to his successor, Rousseff, who was impeached last month for manipulating the budget.

Lula hinted strongly at seeking a return to power in a fiery speech that dismissed corruption charges against him as persecution.

Massively popular when he left office in 2010 and remains a giant of the Latin American left, Lula was campaigning in western Rio de Janeiro on behalf of Jandira Feghali, a communist candidate running for mayor in local elections next Sunday.

“You will be my electoral support in 2018,” he said to enthusiastic cheers, also vowing “to keep fighting for this country”.