Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Image courtesy of Fotos GOVBA/Flickr.

Federal police detained former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for questioning on Friday as they investigate whether he received kickbacks tied to Petrobras contracts.

Lula da Silva was taken to an airport in Sao Paulo for questioning while federal police searched his Sao Paulo home, Bloomberg said.

Brazilian prosecutors allege that Lula da Silva received gifts related to a kickback scheme at Petrobras, including luxury real estate and speaking fees paid by companies involved in the corruption scandal, Retuers said.

“Ex-president Lula, besides being party leader, was the one ultimately responsible for the decision on who would be the directors at Petrobras and was one of the main beneficiaries of these crimes,” a police statement seen by Reuters said.

Lula da Silva, the founder of the ruling Workers’ Party, has not been formally charged and has denied any wrongdoing.

In a statement seen by Bloomberg, the federal police said it is carrying out 33 search and seizure warrants and 11 detention warrants to testify related to the investigation.

The probe, known as Operation Car Wash, has focused on bribes and kickbacks paid by several engineering and energy firms to win Petrobras contracts.

Former Petrobras director Pedro Barusco alleged in a Brazilian court last June that several shipbuilding companies paid brides to win contracts with Sete Brasil, a rig firm established to provide vessels to Petrobras.

The former president is the highest profile politician to be ensnared in the two year long probe into corruption at state-owned Petrobras.

Late last year, Brazilian police raided the home and offices of lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha and three other politicians suspected of participating in the graft scheme.

President Dilma Rousseff, also a member of the Workers’ Party, has denied any wrongdoing or involvement in the Petrobras scandal.


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