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Brazil police detain former Workers' Party members in fresh anti-graft raid

Police in Brazil have arrested former leaders of the ruling Workers' Party over corruption allegations related to state oil company Petrobras. The arrests have dealt another blow to President Rousseff's administration.

In a press conference about the so-called "Operation Car Wash," police said they detained a former treasurer of President Dilma Rousseff's Workers' Party (PT) and arrested a former general secretary and a local newspaper owner.

Officials said they had launched "a new front in investigations" into a "money-laundering scheme" involving the Workers' Party.

The arrests on Friday were related to a decade-old loan of 12 million reais ($33 million, 2.9 billion euros) from Brazil's Banco Schahin that was allegedly never paid back.

Last year, police arrested Jose Carlos Bumlai, a powerful rancher and friend of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Brasilien Demo in Sao Paulo für Unterstützung von Dilma Rousseff

Thousands marched in Sao Paulo on Thursday to show their solidarity for Dilma Rousseff, who is facing calls for impeachment

Bumlai allegedly sought the help of the former president to obtain a 1.6-billion-dollar

Petrobras

contract for the Schahin group, following which the loan from Schahin's bank was subsequently forgiven. Proceeds from it were laundered through various businessmen linked to the Workers' Party and used to pay bribes or pay off the party's debts.

Investigations into the Petrobras scandal have uncovered the involvement of several leading businessmen and members of the ruling Workers' Party ever since it took power in 2003. Former President Lula is under investigation for receiving kickbacks off Petrobras contracts. He denies any wrongdoing and accuses the opposition of a witch hunt.

The latest findings have added fuel to

demands of impeachment

against President Rousseff, but her personal involvement in these cases has not yet been proven.

mg/tj (Reuters, AFP)

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