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Brazil names 46 suspects in money-laundering, drug probe

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

Police in Brazil have named 46 people, including an ex-executive at oil giant Petrobras, as suspects in an alleged $4.5 billion money laundering and drug operation, officials said Wednesday.

Officials are investigating a criminal gang that allegedly engaged in illegal currency trading, illegal diamond trafficking and bribing government officials and other offenses, besides the money laundering and drug allegations.

A former refining director at Petrobras, Paulo Roberto Costa, was already arrested on March 21.

Of the 46 suspects, 30 are already in preventive custody and two are on the run, media reports said.

Prosecutors will decide in the coming days whether to indict any of the suspects.

The charges could include criminal association, financial crimes, money laundering and drug trafficking.

Federal police said in a statement that so far three hotels and luxury homes had been seized.

Also confiscated were 25 vehicles, the equivalent of $2.6 million in cash, jewels and artworks.

Last week, Petrobras handed over documents requested by the Federal Police.

The investigation is only the latest in a long series of problems to plague Petrobras, which has lost billions of dollars in market value over the past five years.

A growing scandal surrounding its controversial purchase of a Texas refinery, which came at a ballooned price of $1.1 billion has bedeviled not only the Brazilian government but also President Dilma Rousseff.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140417/brazil-names-46-suspects-money-laundering-drug-probe