As part of the ninth stage of its Operation Car Wash that began today (Feb. 5), the Federal Police are gathering evidence against 11 “bagmen” suspected of being involved in
the kickback scheme at Petrobras. They were acting within the Services division under former director Renato Duque.
The evidence was obtained through plea bargain agreements with other suspects targeted by the investigation. However, police are still searching for supporting records before they can file the charges.
Among suspects called in for questioning is the treasurer of the ruling Workers’ Party (PT), João Vaccari Neto. Police want to inquire him about allegations that he collected bribe payments as if they were legal donations to the party.
According to public prosecutors in charge of the investigation efforts, the new suspects had less clout than money changer Alberto Youssef, but they did take part in dealings with Petrobras officials. “There are more people who have had roles in the wrongdoing at Petrobras than are currently jailed, like Youssef and Fernando ‘Baiano’ [Soares],” said Federal Prosecutor Carlos Fernando Lima.
The ninth stage of the probe is targeted on contracts with Petrobras subsidiary BR Distribuidora. In Santa Catarina, police seized large amounts of money and arrested two business men suspected of defrauding contracts with Petrobras by issuing fake invoices.
According to the Federal Police Chief Igor Romário de Paula, 26 businesses are currently being investigated as part of this ninth phase of the operation. According to him, there is evidence that by the end of 2014, even after the operation had been long going, the businesses were still proceeding with their illegal activities in fraud and money laundering. “They [“bagmen”] would act as intermediaries handling payments from embezzled amounts and kickbacks from contractors, which were all channeled to public officials,” he said.
Police explained this ninth stage of Operation Car Wash was dubbed “My Way” after the alias used by former Petrobras manager Pedro Barusco when referring to Former Services Director Renato Duque.
Translated by Mayra Borges