June 21, 2018 / 4:58 PM / 4 months ago

Brazil police arrest 15 in Sao Paulo highway probe

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 21 (Reuters) - Brazilian authorities executed 15 arrest warrants on Thursday as part of an investigation into alleged corruption in highway contracts in the state of Sao Paulo, according to a statement from federal prosecutors and police.

One of the main targets in the operation was Laurence Casagrande Lourenco, former head of the state-run company Dersa, which is in charge of Sao Paulo’s highways. He is the current head of state-run utility Companhia Energetica de Sao Paulo SA , widely known as Cesp, Brazil’s G1 news reported.

Lourenco also served as transport and logistics secretary for former Sao Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin, now a centrist presidential candidate polling in the single-digits in recent surveys.

It was not immediately known what attorney may be representing Lourenco, and a request for comment from Cesp was not returned.

Prosecutors said in their written statement that targets included “former executives of Dersa, and executives of construction firms OAS and Mendes Junior” among others.

Under the alleged scheme, Sao Paulo’s state government was over-billed more than 600 million reais ($158 million) for construction works on a major highway that rings metropolitan Sao Paulo. (Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; writing by Gram Slattery, editing by G Crosse)

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