SAO PAULO – Authorities detained a former Brazilian cabinet minister on Friday, three days after police found the equivalent of more than $16 million in cash that allegedly belonging to him.
Police said the money was found in suitcases and cardboard boxes in an apartment used by Geddel Vieira Lima, a close ally of President Michel Temer and former legislative affairs minister.
The owner of the apartment told police he lent it to Lima to store objects belonging to his late father.
Lima had been sent to prison July 3 on suspicion of obstruction of justice. His arrest was part of a corruption investigation into a government-controlled bank. Nine days later he was placed under house arrest, which was revoked on Friday.
Also Friday, Attorney General Rodrigo Janot filed charges at the Supreme Court against five sitting senators of the ruling Brazilian Democratic Movement Party and an ex-senator of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party.
He also filed charges against former Sen. Jose Sarney who served as Brazil's president between 1985 and 1990.
Janot charged the seven men with forming a "criminal organization" to obtain the equivalent of close to $280 million in bribes from suppliers of state-owned oil company Petrobras.
The charges are part of a huge corruption investigation into a scheme to inflate state contracts in order to pay kickbacks and bribes to politicians. The probe has already netted dozens of executives and senior politicians. Next, the justice handling the probe will decide whether to accept the charges.