Sao Paulo – Brazil‘s former President Michel Temer was arrested on Thursday as part of the sweeping anti-corruption investigation known as “Car Wash”, police said.
According to the Federal Police office in Rio de Janeiro, authorities carried out 10 arrest warrants, including that of Michel Temer, as well as 26 additional search warrants on Thursday.
Local media reported the former president was arrested in his house in Sao Paulo and flown to the Federal Police office in Rio.
Temer, who was president from 2016 to 2018, was hit with corruption charges during his presidency regarding management contracts of several ports in Sao Paulo. Those charges were blocked by his allies in Congress. His arrest was imminent, however, after he left office because he was no longer afforded certain legal protections.
Police said on Thursday that Temer’s arrest stems from new charges related to “crimes of corruption, criminal organisations and money laundry” in the management of a nuclear plant in Rio.
Temer has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
“I’m certain [Temer’s] lawyers will file a habeas corpus request so he can continue to answer to authorities in freedom,” lawyer Luiz Felipe Panelli told Al Jazeera.
Panelli said the judge could have decided to keep Temer under house arrest or other forms of custody.
“This type of arrest only happens when there’s immediate danger the suspect can flee or that he is still committing the crime,” he added.
Since launching in March 2014, the Car Wash investigation has led to the jailing of top businessmen and politicians, including ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
An arrest warrant for Moreira Franco, the former minister for mines and energy, was also issued on Thursday.
Franco’s lawyer told Al Jazeera the warrant was unnecessary because the former minister has told authorities of his whereabouts, and has said, “He is available [to help] the ongoing investigations, has provided testimonials and has defended himself in writing when necessary.”
Local media reported that Temer’s party, Brazilian Democratic Movement, said in a statement that it “regrets the Justice [system] is moving forward with an inquiry in which it has been demonstrated there are no irregularities by the former president and former minister”.
MDB did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.