June 6, 2017 / 2:51 PM / in a year

UPDATE 2-Brazil police arrest former minister in World Cup stadium probe

(Updates with allegations of corruption at Caixa)

By Lisandra Paraguassu and Pedro Fonseca

BRASILIA/RIO DE JANEIRO, June 6 (Reuters) - Police on Tuesday arrested a former tourism minister in a probe into corruption in the construction of a soccer stadium in northeastern Brazil for the 2014 World Cup and also in connection to alleged fraud at a state-run bank.

In a statement, police said they served five arrest warrants, 22 search-and-seizure warrants and brought in six people for questioning.

Federal prosecutors said in an emailed statement that one of the men arrested was Henrique Eduardo Alves, a former tourism minister. Former lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha, who is already in prison, also fell under the scope of investigation.

Both Alves and Cunha were also targeted because of developments in a fraud investigation at the Caixa Economica Federal, prosecutors said. The bank is Brazil’s largest mortgage lender.

There was no immediate response to calls for comment from representatives for Alves and Cunha.

Last June, Alves resigned as President Michel Temer’s tourism minister after accusations that he had taken bribes.

A prominent lawmaker, he was speaker of the lower house of Congress between 2013 and 2015. Cunha succeeded him, serving until May 2016 when Brazil’s Supreme Court forced him out of the post on allegations he obstructed a corruption investigation.

The Arena das Dunas stadium in the city of Natal is the seventh of 11 stadiums used in the 2014 World Cup to come under scrutiny.

According to the police statement, contracts for the construction of the stadium were inflated by a total of 77 million reais ($23.4 million) to fund bribes to lawmakers.

The case could heighten pressure on Temer, who faces calls for his ouster after he was caught on tape allegedly condoning bribes to silence a key potential witness in the country’s sweeping three-year-old corruption investigation, known as Operation Car Wash.

Late on Monday, police sent Temer a list of 84 questions related to the allegations. He has 24 hours to answer.

His administration is being threatened by an electoral court trial starting on Tuesday over the alleged use of illicit money to fund former President Dilma Rousseff’s 2014 election campaign. Temer was Rousseff’s vice-presidential running mate.

$1 = 3.30 reais Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu and Pedro Fonseca; Writing by Bruno Federowski; Editing by W Simon

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