Brazil police arrest government Senate leader for allegedly obstructing investigation

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian police Wednesday arrested the government’s leader in the Senate for allegedly obstructing the investigation into a corruption scandal at state-owned oil company Petrobras.

Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki authorized the arrest of Sen. Delcidio do Amaral of the ruling Worker’s Party after examining evidence allegedly showing that the senator had interfered in the investigation of the massive corruption-kickback schemed at the oil company.

Under Brazilian law, the Supreme Court must approve any investigation of legislators or top officials in the executive branch. Any criminal charges or trials of such figures must also must be approved and judged by the top court.

A majority of the 81-seat Senate must also approve the arrest. Senate President Renan Calheiros said he would take the “necessary steps” once he receives documentation from the Supreme Court.

Amaral’s attorney, Mauricio Leite was not immediately available for comment.

The federal police also arrested Andre Esteves, the CEO of investment bank Grupo BTG Pactual. He’s accused of obstructing the Petrobras corruption scandal.

Prosecutors have alleged that over $2 billion was paid in bribes by businessmen to obtain Petrobras contracts, projects that then subsequently ballooned in costs. Investigators also have said that some of the money made its way to the Workers’ Party.