Sérgio Cabral, Ex-Governor of Rio de Janeiro, Arrested on Corruption Charges


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Sérgio Cabral, center, in Rio de Janeiro in 2014, when he was the state’s governor, and former President Dilma Rousseff, right.

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Yasuyoshi Chiba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

RIO DE JANEIRO — The former governor of Rio de Janeiro, who helped bring the Summer Olympics to the city, was arrested on Thursday as part of an investigation into bribery and embezzlement in construction projects.

The former governor, Sérgio Cabral, was arrested as part of an inquiry into the embezzlement of 224 million reais, or about $64 million, intended for public works projects, according to the authorities. He led the state of Rio de Janeiro from 2007 to 2014, when he resigned amid suspicions of corruption and growing street protests.

Mr. Cabral’s arrest reflects how figures across the ideological spectrum in Brazil’s political class remain on edge as major graft investigations advance. The Workers’ Party of Dilma Rousseff, who was ousted as president in August on charges of budgetary manipulation, suffered big losses in recent municipal elections after the party was ensnared in various scandals.

Federal police officers picked up Mr. Cabral at his house in the upscale Rio neighborhood of Leblon on Thursday morning.

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Prosecutors said in a statement that they believed Mr. Cabral had led an organized-crime ring that involved bribery, corruption, and money laundering by businesspeople and high-ranking politicians in the state.

Bribes were paid on contracts for public infrastructure works in the state, according to the authorities. Those works were said to have included the reconstruction of the Maracanã Stadium before the 2014 World Cup.

Mr. Cabral, a member of the centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement Party of the current president, Michel Temer, is the second major political figure from that party to be arrested in recent months. The other was Eduardo Cunha, who resigned in July as speaker of the lower house of Parliament.

Mr. Cabral’s spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a phone message requesting comment.

A statement from the prosecutor’s office said that Mr. Cabral was one of eight people for whom arrest warrants had been issued. Additionally, 38 search and seizure warrants were issued, including for property of Mr. Cabral’s wife, Adriana Ancelmo.

This week, another former governor of Rio de Janeiro, Anthony Garotinho, was arrested on accusations of voter fraud. The state has been shaken by budget problems and is struggling to pay employees and maintain basic public services.

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