Petrobras Corruption Probe Leads Police to Home of Ex-President

Brazil police this morning searched the home of former president and current senator Fernando Collor as part of investigations into sitting congressmen allegedly involved in a scheme to divert money from Petrobras.

Police targeted 53 homes and businesses in 7 states to keep evidence from being destroyed, according to an e-mailed statement from the prosecutor general’s office.

Collor, a member of President Dilma Rousseff’s ruling coalition, said the search was “arbitrary and invasive.” The senator, who resigned as president in 1992 amid impeachment procedures, made himself available to testify and said the police operation was unnecessary, according to a statement posted on social media.

This is the first phase of the investigation targeting elected lawmakers, who in Brazil have a special judicial status that requires their cases to be heard by the Supreme Court. More than 50 current and former politicians were cited in witness testimony for their alleged role in accepting bribes from construction companies that overcharged for contracts with Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the state oil company is formally known.

Properties owned by Ciro Nogueira, a senator and president of the Progressive Party, were also searched, according to a press officer in the lawmaker’s office who asked not to be named citing internal rules. Nogueira’s party is also part of government’s ruling coalition. Rousseff is not under investigation.

Petrobras didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.