Aide to former president becomes biggest scalp in Petrobras graft probe

The Petrobras corruption scandal struck further up the pole of Brazil’s high and mighty on Monday when federal police arrested an aide to former national president Lula da Silva.

Jose Dirceu, who served as chief of staff under then-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from 2003 to 2005, was the man arrested at his home in the national capital Brasilia where he was already under house arrest for his part in a previous corruption scandal.

He is the most senior member of the governing Workers’ Party to be arrested as part of the investigation – known as Operation Car Wash – into alleged corruption at the state-owned oil giant and among ancillary industries and politicians.

Prosecutors claim Dirceu was a mastermind of the whole scheme.

In the past year Petrobras has become synonymous with a hive of graft and market rigging as allegations have poured forth about bribes for contracts, price fixing and political kickbacks. Arrests have come with some regularity including executives of firms in the construction industry.

As yet neither former president da Silva nor current one Dilma Rousseff, also of the Workers Party, has been accused in the case.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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