SAO PAULO Ė Brazilís Federal Police launched an operation on Thursday to detain 15 people accused of graft in public works projects in Sao Paulo state.
Among the suspects is Laurence Casagrande Lourenco, former head of Dersa, the state-owned highway development company in that southeastern state.
Investigators say the suspects engaged in unlawful association and fraud in contracts Dersa signed with construction companies working on the Mario Covas Rodoanel Beltway, a project that was funded by Brazilís central government, Sao Paulo state and the Inter-American Development Bank.
The Attorney Generalís Office estimates that the amount spent on the project exceeded the real construction costs by roughly 130 million reais (some $35 million) due to overpricing and over-invoicing.
Casagrande served as transport and logistics secretary under former Sao Paulo Gov. Geraldo Alckmin, a candidate in Brazilís October 2018 presidential election.
Other targets of the operation include executives of construction companies such as OAS and Mendes Junior.
The probe was launched in 2016 after a construction company engineer alleged that contracts for one stretch of the Mario Covas Rodoanel Beltway had been manipulated to boost payments to the firms.