Brazil federal police arrested several people Thursday with links to President Michel Temer who is suspected of accepting bribes for the awarding of contracts to companies operating at the country’s largest port.
The arrests were authorized by Supreme Court Justice Luis Roberto Barroso, who is overseeing the Sao Paulo Santos port investigation.
The attorney general’s office said in a statement that arrests were made at Santos as part of an investigation into alleged corruption involving a decree signed by Temer regulating Brazil’s ports.
The decree Temer signed last May extended contracts for companies operating at the port from 25 to 35 years with an option of renewal for up to 70 years.
Temer has denied any wrongdoing in the awarding of port contracts, and his Cabinet secretary told reporters the president would clear his name.
Rodrimar, one of the companies at the center of the probe, confirmed in a statement that its president, Antonio Celso Grecco, was arrested and that police searched its headquarters in Santos. The company said that in accordance with the warrant, Celso Grecco could be held for five days.
Rodrimar said it has never accepted official favors and that the decree did not benefit any company, adding that the company and Celso Grecco were surprised by Thursday’s move.
Brazilian media reported that others arrested included: Jose Yunes, a longtime former aide to Temer; Joao Batista Lima, a retired military police colonel with reportedly close ties to Temer; and Wagner Rossi, an agriculture minister in a previous government who once ran Codesp, the entity that administers the port.
Attorneys for the suspects said their clients have denied any wrongdoing. Some of them called their clients’ detention “unacceptable” and/or “illegal.”