RIO DE JANEIRO.- Former President Michel Temer was arrested Thursday by Brazil’s Federal Police on charges arising from the massive corruption probe known as Lava Jato (Car Wash).
Temer was taken into custody at his home in Sao Paulo and is expected to be brought to Rio de Janeiro later Thursday to give a statement before Federal Judge Marcelo Bretas, who ordered the politician be arrested and held without bail.
The former head of state will probably be locked up at Federal Police regional headquarters in Rio, where other Lava Jato prisoners are being held.
Bretas also ordered the arrest of Wellington Moreira Franco, who was Temer’s chief of staff.
During Temer’s tenure as president, from August 2016 to Jan. 1 of this year, federal prosecutors twice requested the initiation of corruption trials against him before the Supreme Court, but Congress refused to authorize the lifting of his immunity.
Temer’s immunity ended when he left office, opening the door to criminal prosecution and he faces potential charges in 10 separate cases.
Lava Jato, which was initially focused on a massive bribes-for-inflated-contracts scandal centered on state oil company Petrobras, metastasized into an investigation of corruption in all corners of Brazilian public life.
The case that prompted Temer’s arrest is over alleged kickbacks to his MDB party by firms that received contracts from state nuclear power company Eletronuclear.
The suspicious contracts were signed in 2016 when Temer was already governing Brazil.
The complaint was made by the owner of the company Engevix, Jose Antunes Sobrinho, who agreed to collaborate with the courts and provide information about his accomplices in different corruption cases in exchange for a sentence reduction.
He said that he paid bribes at the request of reserve army Col. Joao Baptista Filma Filho, a close friend of Temer who is currently serving a prison sentence, to get one of the contracts in building the Angra 3 nuclear power plant.
According to Sobrinho, the payment of illegal commissions to favor MDB was known to both Temer and Franco.
Temer is the second head of state to be arrested in Brazil for cases linked to Lava Jato after Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who governed from 2003-2011 and began serving 12 years in prison for corruption in April 2018.