A Brazilian man facing allegations of bribing officials at state-run oil company Petrobras on behalf of Vitol Group, Glencore and other major oil trading firms has been arrested in the United States, authorities said Tuesday.
Luiz Eduardo Loureiro Andrade was detained in the U.S. on Dec. 20, an arrest that was disclosed in a Brazilian court document. He was arrested with the help of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Besides handling deportation cases, ICE carries out investigations of transnational crime.
An e-mail included in the court document from a Brazilian federal police official based in Miami indicated that Andrade is being held in an undisclosed location in the United States and that Brazil has requested his extradition. It was not clear when he may be sent back to Brazil.
ICE did not respond to requests for comment. An investigator with Brazil's federal police confirmed the arrest on condition that they not be named as they were not authorized to speak with the press, but declined to provide more details.
Andrade was charged in Brazil for acting as a middleman between top executives at Vitol, allegedly funneling bribes to Petrobras officials in exchange for sweetheart deals from the state-run firm. Officials allege that he also carried out the same services for Glencore and other big oil trading firms to win sweetheart contracts with Petrobras.
Two former executives of Trafigura were charged in the same scheme on Dec. 14.
Brazilian prosecutors have said they will pressure the middlemen charged and arrested to turn state's witness and testify against powerful executives at the massive oil trading firms, the same method they have used for years to take down top targets.
Brazilian prosecutors allege some of the crimes were carried out by Petrobras traders based in Houston and that some illicit funds moved through the U.S. and European banking systems, raising the chance that jurisdiction for investigating the case could widen. Brazilian and U.S. prosecutors have worked closely in the past on Car Wash cases.