With the political situation in Brazil now so volatile that commentators say it is impossible to predict, a Brazilian national has been arrested in Lisbon as part of Operation Lava Jato (Car Wash).
Raul Schmidt Felippe Junior was arrested early this morning in a police raid that “began at dawn”, writes Diário de Notícias.
He is described by national tabloid Correio da Manhã as having been “on the run” since July due to his connection to Petrobras – the Brazilian state fuel company at the centre of Lava Jato.
International reports have been increasingly explaining that the scandal which began as yet another case of corruption involving favours and kickbacks has since “snowballed” into three separate crises which now threaten to bring Brazil to its knees, both politically and economically.
But as this week will be crucial to the survival of the current government in Brazil, Junior’s arrest is seen as bringing Lava Jato firmly over the sea to Portugal.
Noticiasaominuto website headlines the news as “Operation Lava Jato brings consequences in Portugal”. The message has already been pushed by CM, which highlights the “close relationship” between former prime minister José Sócrates and former Brazilian president Lula da Silva, who is already under threat of prosecution as a result of his alleged involvement in Lava Jato.
For now, what follows from Junior’s detention is unclear.
According to CM, Portuguese police were working on a “rogatory letter” sent by authorities in Brasilia. But extradition to Brazil is not automatic, as there is no agreement with Portugal unless cases involve terrorism or international organised crime.
Nonetheless, this is the first international operation “realised by Lava Jato”, explains CM – stressing that according to the rogatory letter issued by Paraná prosecutors, Junior is being investigated for the payment of bribes to three former Petrobras directors, as well as for “having facilitated oil exploration contracts” to international companies.
Junior is described as a Brazilian with dual Portuguese nationality.
Brazil’s federal ministry has revealed that he used to live in London, where he ran an art gallery.
UPDATE: According to a tweet from Lusa, Appeal Court judges are to decide whether or not to extradite Junior to Brazil.
Meantime, the luxury apartment, valued at €3 million and in the name of a New Zealand “offshore” company, in which he was arrested has been “seized”, reports Brazil’s G1 Globo news website.