Brazil police arrest 15 in Sao Paulo highway probe

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A federal police officer carries a pouch as he arrives at the Federal Police headquarters in Sao Paulo

A federal police officer carries a pouch as he arrives at the Federal Police headquarters in Sao Paulo, Brazil June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Leonardo Benassatto

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian authorities arrested 15 people on Thursday as part of an investigation into alleged corruption in highway contracts in the state of Sao Paulo, according to a statement from federal prosecutors and police.

One of the targets was Laurence Casagrande Lourenco, former head of state-run Dersa, the company in charge of Sao Paulo's highways, court documents showed. Lourenco was the head of state-run utility Companhia Energetica de Sao Paulo SA, widely known as Cesp, until Thursday. However, the company said in a late afternoon statement that he had resigned.

He also served as transport and logistics secretary for former Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin, now a centrist presidential candidate polling in the single-digits in recent surveys.

It could not be immediately determined if Lourenco is represented by an attorney. Cesp did not return a request for comment.

Prosecutors said in the statement that targets included former executives of Dersa, and executives of construction firms OAS SA and Mendes Junior Engenharia SA.

Under the alleged scheme, Sao Paulo's state government was over-billed more than 600 million reais (119.26 million pounds) for construction works on a major highway that rings the city of Sao Paulo, the capital of Sao Paulo state.


(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Leslie Adler and Lisa Shumaker)