Rio de Janeiro, June 24 (IANS) A former Brazilian minister from Brazil’s suspended President Dilma Rousseff’s Workers’ Party (PT) was arrested on Thursday in a police operation as part of the investigation into the Petrobras corruption ring, official sources said.
Paulo Bernardo Silva was the Minister of Planning under the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Minister of Communications for Rousseff, and a former treasurer of PT.
He is facing charges of having received over 7 million reais ($2.1 million) between 2010 and 2015 from the Petrobras corruption ring, with these funds being credited to a law firm which never existed, Xinhua reported.
Bernardo Silva was arrested at his home in Brasilia, while another home he owns in the southern city of Curitiba was searched.
He is married to Gleisi Hoffman, a PT senator and Rousseff’s former chief of staff, who is one of the foremost defenders of the suspended president.
Other people arrested on Thursday included Carlos Gabas, Rousseff’s former minister of civil aviation, and Leonardo Attuch, the editor of Brasil 247, a news platform with links to PT.
This focus on PT also saw police search the party’s headquarters in Sao Paulo for eight hours on Thursday morning.
Police officers seized and took away a computer, documents and a number of files from the building, as part of a joint operation with the Secretariat of Federal Revenue.
According to a press release from Operation Car Wash investigators, the raid was part of a search into bribes paid for the allocation of information service contracts worth $30 million between 2010 and 2015.
Rui Falcao, the president of PT, issued a press release saying that “the Workers’ Party condemns the unnecessary search and seizure made at our national headquarters in Sao Paulo. Following a series of facts and accusations against politicians and business people…an operation is being carried out to try once again to criminalize PT.”
The PT, founded by Lula in 1980, is currently undergoing the most critical time in its history, with Rousseff being suspended in May, pending an impeachment trial.