Ex-Brazil finance minister sprung from jail hours after arrest for family emergency

"We just hope they don't interfere with [his wife's] surgery," defense attorney José Roberto Batochio said Thursday

By Andrew V. Pestano and Doug G. Ware

SãO PAULO, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Disgraced Brazilian finance minister Guido Mantega got out of jail on Thursday -- just hours after he was arrested on a number of criminal charges -- due to an illness in his family, officials said.

Mantega was taken into custody Thursday morning over an alleged construction contract gouging scheme connected with Brazil's Petrobras oil company.


The former government official, who served between 2006 and 2015 under former presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, faces allegations of corruption, fraud, criminal association and money laundering.

RELATED Wednesday: Brazil's former President Luiz Lula to stand trial on corruption charges

Business tycoon Eike Batista, owner of the construction companies Mendes Junior and OSX and once one of Brazil's richest men, was also arrested Thursday in connection to the case, O Globo reported.

Mantega is accused of taking a $5 million bribe from Batista for the Brazil's Workers' Party. Prosecutors say in return, the finance minister offered Batista's companies overpriced contracts to construct two oil exploration platforms -- even though the firms "possessed experience, structure and preparation to" construct the platforms without the need to spend the allocated amount.


Mantega was arrested at a São Paulo hospital where his wife was awaiting surgery. After he was booked and jailed, Mantega was allowed to leave due to his wife's condition.

A judge in the case, who ordered Mantega's arrest in the first place, later said authorities were not aware of his wife's condition when the warrant was issued.

RELATED August: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff impeached by Federal Senate

"We just hope they don't interfere with the surgery," José Roberto Batochio, Mantega's attorney, said Thursday.

Tuesday, a Brazilian judge ordered Lula da Silva, Brazil's president from 2003 to 2010, to stand trial on corruption and money-laundering charges related to the Petrobras scandal.

Rousseff was impeached last month over allegations that she broke campaign finance laws.

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