Construction boss re-arrested in Brazil as corruption probe widens to nuclear sector

Brazilian police have arrested the former president of the country’s construction giant Andrade Gutierrez for his suspected role in a bribery scandal involving the state-owned nuclear power operator.

Otavio Marques de Azevedo (pictured) was already under arrest for suspected involvement in the corruption scandal engulfing state oil company, Petrobras.

Police arrested de Azevedo yesterday, the Associated Press reports.

He was first arrested in June 2015 along with Marcelo Odebrecht, chief executive of Latin America’s biggest construction firm Odebrecht SA, on suspicion of taking part in a $2.1bn bribery scheme involving Petrobras and politicians.

Only last week, on 5 February, de Azevedo had been released into house arrest, with a requirement to wear an electronic ankle bracelet, in exchange for agreeing to give prosecutors evidence in the Petrobras investigation.

Known locally as Operation Lava Jato – for "Car Wash" – the Petrobras scandal has ensnared those at the very top of Brazil’s construction industry.

Now prosecutors are probing whether a similar kickback scheme was in operation at Eletronuclear, the state-owned company that operates Brazil’s two nuclear power plants.

Prosecutors have said that Andrade Gutierrez and other construction companies paid more than $1m to Eletronuclear directors for contracts involving the construction of the Angra 3 nuclear plant.

Five of the builders whose executives have been jailed for bribing Petrobras also won contracts to build the $4.4bn plant, Bloomberg reported.

This scandal adds to Brazil’s mounting difficulties, including the outbreak of the Zika virus, political turmoil, and a deepening recession caused by plunging oil and commodity prices, all while the country races to prepare for the Summer 2016 Olympics.

Photograph: Otavio Marques de Azevedo, former president of Brazilian construction company Andrade Gutierrez, during a hearing of the parliamentary committee of the Petrobras investigation, 31 August 2015 (Heuler Andrey/AFP/Getty Images)

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