Ex-Brazilian finance chief Mantega arrested in fraud probe




RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Former Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega was arrested Thursday for investigation of alleged overpricing in the construction of oil platforms in the sprawling corruption scandal at state-run oil giant Petrobras, federal police said.

Others targeted in the latest chapter of the probe include executives of construction companies Mendes Junior and OSX, which belongs to Eike Batista, once one of Brazil's richest men.

Federal police said corruption, fraud, criminal association and money laundering were being investigated in the case, but did not specify which crimes could apply to the former minister. Investigators in the case are expected to provide more details at a news conference later.

Jose Roberto Batochio, Mantega's attorney, said his client was arrested at a hospital in Sao Paulo where he had gone to accompany his wife while she underwent surgery. Investigators also searched his house. He will be later taken to the southern city of Curitiba, home base to lower court Judge Sergio Moro, who is considered an anti-corruption hero by adversaries of the Worker's Party.

Mantega was Brazil's finance minister for more than eight years in the Workers' Party administrations of former Presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff. He emerged as one of Silva's top economic aides before he was elected president.

Federal police said in a statement that the oil platforms being investigated were built by companies that did not have the necessary experience and that in 2012 Mantega "acted directly" to negotiate payments to the Workers' Party with one of the firms.
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