Rio de Janeiro governor arrested on graft charges
Pezao, 63, is accused of receiving bribes when he was vice governor of the Brazilian city under Sergio Cabral, who is currently in prison after being sentenced to a cumulative 180 years for corruption
RIO DE JANEIRO: The governor of Rio de Janeiro, Luiz Fernando Pezao, was arrested on Thursday over allegations he took bribes as part of the sprawling “Car Wash” graft probe.
Pezao, 63, is accused of receiving bribes when he was vice governor of the Brazilian city under Sergio Cabral, who is currently in prison after being sentenced to a cumulative 180 years for corruption.
The Globo News television channel showed live footage of federal police at Pezao’s residence, where he was having breakfast at the time.
“The governor is part of the political nucleus of a criminal organisation that, over the last few years, committed several crimes against the public administration, especially corruption and money laundering,” a General Prosecutor’s Ofice statement said.
He was transferred to a police headquarters in Rio.
The sweeping “Lava Jato” (Car Wash) probe kicked off in 2014, ensnaring politicians from nearly every party in corruption allegations mainly linked to Brazil’sstate-ownedoilcompanypetrobras.
In Rio de Janeiro, the police also raided the Guanabara Palace, headquarters of the local government, searching for documents.
Brazil’s attorney general, Raquel Dodge issued the prison order which was carried out by the Superior Court of Justice, which has jurisdiction over governors.
The arrest warrant was based on the confession of Carlos Miranda, a former Cabral associate, who co-operated in exchange for a sentence reduction.
According to Miranda’s testimony, Pezao would have received a monthly payment of 150,000 reais ($40,000) as well as end-of-the-year bonuses of up to one million reais, local press reported.
The money would have been paid by companies and intermediaries bound by contracts with the Rio de Janeiro government during a period from 2007 to 2014, press reports said.
Inpreviousinquiries,pezaohaddenied participating in the scheme.
The attorney general emphasised that “despite having been a trusted man of Sergio Cabral and assuming a key role in that criminal organisation, even succeeding him in leadership, Pezao operated his own scheme, with its own inancial operators.”
The prosecutor’s ofice warned that if Pezao remained free he could hinder the recovery of misappropriated assets and eliminate assets illegally acquired.
Luiz Fernando Pezao