Brazil prosecutors accuse Esteves, Valor says; lawyer seeks release

miércoles 16 de diciembre de 2015 19:29 GYT

SAO PAULO Dec 16 (Reuters) - Brazil's prosecutor-general Rodrigo Janot has accused jailed financier André Esteves of influence-peddling and bribery in a corruption probe at state firms, newspaper Valor Econômico said on Wednesday, a day before lawyers expect the nation's top court to decide whether to release the billionaire banker.

According to Valor, Janot said evidence showed Esteves "was part, consciously and willingly, of a scheme that created a cartel, practiced acts of active and passive corruption and laundered money" through dealings with state-controlled oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras).

Janot alleged in a Dec. 7 document sent to Supreme Court justices that Esteves and Grupo BTG Pactual SA, the bank he helped found six years ago, profited from those dealings, said the paper, which obtained a copy of the filing.

Esteves was formally charged that same day, although access to the accusations was not made public at the time.

Antonio Carlos de Almeida Castro, Esteves' lawyer, denied the allegations. BTG Pactual declined to comment.

Media representatives at the prosecutor-general's office in Brasilia declined to comment.

Esteves and Senator Delcídio do Amaral, the former leader of governing coalition in the upper house, were arrested on Nov. 25 on suspicion of obstructing "Operation Car Wash," a sweeping probe into corruption at Petrobras.

The Valor report comes as the court is scheduled to meet on Thursday to decide on Almeida Castro's petition to release Esteves on grounds that prosecutors failed to produce evidence that his client committed any crimes.

Almeida Castro and other lawyers working for Esteves alleged that the billionaire was being singled out because of his wealth. "He is in jail because he is rich," they said in the petition, to which Reuters obtained access.   Continuación...