UPDATE 2-Brazil police arrest 3 ex-congressmen, broaden corruption probe

viernes 10 de abril de 2015 14:06 GYT

(Adds details on Petrobras repayments)

By Sergio Spagnuolo

CURITIBA, Brazil, April 10 (Reuters) - Brazilian police arrested three former congressmen on Friday, broadening their corruption investigation beyond state-run oil firm Petrobras to state lender Caixa Economica Federal and the federal health ministry.

A federal judge in the southern city of Curitiba ordered the arrest of André Vargas, former congressman for the ruling Workers' Party, as well as Luiz Argolo and Pedro Corrêa, former lawmakers for the smaller opposition Party of Solidarity.

Though none currently hold office, they were the first politicians arrested in the year-old probe that discovered construction companies had funneled bribes from Petrobras.

Prosecutors and police agents said at a press conference that Vargas and his brother had taken bribes in exchange for helping a public relations firm and a biotech lab secure contracts with Caixa Economica Federal and the health ministry.

"This was probably repeated in other areas," said federal police agent Igor Romario.

In dispatches ordering the arrests, federal judge Sergio Moro cited evidence suggesting crimes of corruption and money laundering had been committed. Four other people were detained for allegedly funneling bribes.

Prosecutors have long warned that the multibillion-dollar kickback scheme they uncovered at Petroleo Brasileiro SA likely extended to other state-run companies.   Continuación...