Brazil’s federal police arrested the former CEO of Petrobras and Banco do Brasil, Aldemir Bendine, this morning. He is the latest high-profile figure to be arrested as a part of Operation Car Wash. The corruption enquiry has engulfed leaders in Brazil’s political circles and business class, as well as across Latin America.
Police arrested Bendine at his daughter’s home in Sorocaba, São Paulo, early this morning. According to investigators, Bendine received large bribes from Brazil’s state-owned construction firm Odebrecht. Bendine was Petrobras’s CEO from 2009 until 2015, when he switched to become Banco do Brasil’s CEO.
Police served three arrest warrants in addition to 11 search and seizure orders this morning as a part of the arrest. Reports indicate that Bendine had bought a one-way flight to Portugal using his Italian passport, due to leave tomorrow morning.
Police believe Bendine received 3 million BRL from Odebrecht in 2015 after assuming his position as head of Petrobras. Bendine allegedly asked for the sum to avoid harming the state’s contracts with Odebrecht. The damage he threatened to inflict was never specified, according to the prosecutor general’s office.
But the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) says that Bendine asked Odebrecht for a larger bribe prior to this. As CEO of Banco do Brasil, Bendine reportedly requested 17 million BRL in exchange for rolling over one of Odebrecht’s debths to the bank. He never received this amount.
Then-president Dilma Rousseff placed Bendine at Banco do Brasil’s helm after his time with Petrobras. He requested his dismissal in May 2016, shortly after the Lower House’s vote to impeach Dilma. According to investigators, he used Dilma’s name in his attempts to extract bribes from Odebrecht.
Bendine will arrive at the Federal Police’s center for Operation Car Wash investigations in Curitiba later this afternoon. Police arrested a further two people this morning in Recife for their links to Bendine’s dealings.
Brothers and partners in advertising agency Arcos Propaganda, André Gustavo Vieira da Silva and Antônio Carlos Vieira da Silva Júnior will also be detained in Curitiba.
In a statement, his Bendine’s lawyer Pierpaolo Bottini said that Bendine has complied with the investigation. He called Bendine’s arrest “unnecessary”, saying that Bendine had provided investigators with any documents requested.