(Adds details from prosecutor’s statement)
By Pedro Fonseca
RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Brazilian police conducted raids on Wednesday in a new phase of the “Car Wash” corruption investigation, targeting alleged bribery by Italo-Argentine group Techint to secure contracts from state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA.
Federal police and prosecutors said Techint units Confab Industrial SA and Techint Engenharia e Construção SA formed part of an illegal cartel of contractors to win more than 3.3 billion reais ($809 million) of contracts between 2007 and 2010.
Investigators said in a statement they were freezing almost 1.7 billion reais in assets belonging to the individuals targeted in the latest phase of the probe — roughly corresponding to the losses generated by the alleged scheme.
The Brazilian authorities said they were working with Swiss and Italian law enforcement on the case, adding the probe also concerned former employees of the state oil firm, known as Petrobras, and intermediaries they used to receive the alleged bribes.
Techint did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Petrobras contracts under investigation refer to work on a refinery in Bahia state and a petrochemical complex in Rio de Janeiro state, as well as the Gasduc III pipeline in Rio.
$1 = 4.0789 reais Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; Writing and additional reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Brad Haynes, Alison Williams and Alex Richardson