RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazilian police said Friday they made 27 arrests, including the detention of a former official for state-owned oil giant Petrobras (IW 1000/23), as a multibillion-dollar kickback scandal deepened.
Renato Duque, Petrobras' former director of engineering and services, was arrested during a sweep by 30 police teams across the country.
Authorities also froze of assets worth $277 million belonging to 36 suspects and three unnamed companies.
A police statement said 300 federal police and 50 tax fraud experts issued 85 warrants, making 27 arrests after searches in five states and the capital Brasilia, as they widened their investigation into the scandal, dubbed "Operation Car Wash."
The statement added that there have been 11 searches of companies, including some top construction firms.
Money dealer Alberto Youssef, detained along with Costa in March, claimed last month in testimony to investigators published by news magazine Veja that President Dilma Rousseff and predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva knew about the kickback scheme.
Both angrily denied knowing anything about the scheme, which allegedly started shortly after the ruling Workers Party took power in 2003.
Rousseff, a former board chair of Petrobras who served as energy minister under Lula, threatened to sue Veja for publishing the allegations, which now are the subject of an investigation by the courts as well as Congress.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014