June 23, 2016 / 10:42 AM / a year ago

Brazil police arrest former Planning Minister Bernardo

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil police on Thursday said they arrested former Minister Paulo Bernardo, who was indicted earlier this year, and raided Workers Party offices in the latest stage of a massive corruption probe.

Brazilian federal police officers stand in front of the headquarters of Workers' Party (PT) in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 23, 2016. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

Bernardo was planning minister and communications minister during Workers Party administrations for about 10 years.

Police searched 40 places in five different states and sought to arrest 10 other people in the 31st round of the so-called Operation Car Wash, they said in a statement.

The raids targeted the house of Senator Gleisi Hoffmann, Bernardo’s wife. Police also detained former Social Security Minister Carlos Gabas for questioning, TV Globo said.

Police said they were searching for evidence of a bribery scheme at the Planning Ministry. It was the first Car Wash operation originating from Sao Paulo instead of Curitiba, where most of the probe has occurred.

The statement did not list the charges against Bernardo, but police have scheduled a news conference for later on Thursday.

Bernardo and Hoffmann were indicted in March on charges of corruption for their suspected involvement in an illegal campaign finance scheme. They have denied any wrongdoing.

Some of Brazil’s most powerful executives and politicians face charges or are in jail for taking kickbacks in public works, mainly at state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, and funneling part of the money to fund campaigns.

Reporting by Silvio Cascione and Pedro Fonseca; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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