Brazil: Rio de Janeiro governor arrested in Car Wash probe

Luiz Fernando Pezao arrested over allegations he took part in a corruption and money-laundering group.

Rio de Janeiro''s Governor Luiz Fernando Pezao
Investigators say Luiz Fernando Pezao took bribes when he was deputy governor of Rio from 2007 to 2014 [Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters]

Police in Brazil have arrested the governor of Rio de Janeiro state on allegations he took part in a corruption and money-laundering group, federal prosecutors said.

In the latest blow to Brazil’s political elite by the Car Wash corruption probe, Luiz Fernando Pezao was detained along with eight others on Thursday as part of the investigation, which has led to convictions of scores of high-level politicians and people from the business elite for a sprawling corruption scheme.

Neither the government of Rio de Janeiro state nor the governor’s spokespeople immediately responded to requests for comment.

Prosecutors allege Pezao took part in a criminal organisation from 2007 to 2014 when he served as secretary of public works and deputy governor to former Governor Sergio Cabral, who was convicted and jailed over the scheme.

Cabral led the scheme, which took millions in bribes from construction firms in exchange for infrastructure contracts, including one tied to the World Cup.

Prosecutors now allege Pezao received money from public coffers in exchange for giving political backing to members of the criminal organisation. The money he received was later laundered, prosecutors said in a statement.

He received a total of some 25m reais, now worth about 39m reais ($6.49m) from 2007 to 2015, which authorities have been authorised to seize, they said.

Source: Reuters