The billionaire Brazilian banker arrested on charges related to the country's huge Petrobras corruption probe says he is not guilty, his lawyer was quoted as saying Thursday.
Andre Esteves, with a personal wealth of $2.1 billion according to Forbes magazine, was arrested Wednesday along with a senior senator from the ruling Workers' Party. They are accused of attempting to obstruct justice in the Petrobras probe.
The arrest of such powerful men stunned the country and once more indicated the scope of what prosecutors say was a massive bribes and faked contracts scheme at the state oil company involving politicians and executives.
Prosecutors say that Esteves, the chief executive of BTG Pactual investment bank and Brazil's 13th richest person, was planning to finance the escape to Spain of former Petrobras executive Nestor Cervero, who is already accused of corruption.
The plan, according to prosecutors, was suggested in a telephone call between Senator Delcidio Amaral and Cervero's son, who secretly recorded the discussion. In the call, Amaral said that Cervero senior's escape could be arranged in exchange for him refusing to testify on behalf of the government.
But Esteves' lawyer, Antonio Carlos de Almeida, told the O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper that his client had nothing to do with the alleged scheme.
The senator referred to Esteves in the conversation "without any justification. Andre was not heard speaking, was not recorded, and did not know these people," the lawyer was quoted as saying.
"We consider his jailing completely unnecessary."