Apr 10, 1:25 PM EDT

Brazil police arrest politicians suspected of involvement in corruption scheme


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SAO PAULO (AP) -- Brazil's federal police Friday arrested three former congressmen suspected of involvement in a corruption scheme at Brazil's state-run oil giant Petrobras. They are the first politicians to be arrested in the scandal.

Prosecutors have said the scheme involved alleged payments of at least $800 million in bribes and other funds by big construction and engineering firms in return for inflated contracts with Petrobras. Part of that that money allegedly went to the governing Workers Party and other top parties for political campaigns.

Andre Vargas, one of the arrested politicians was a former Workers Party congressman. Luiz Argolo belongs to the Solidarity Party and Pedro Correa is a member of the Progressive Party.

The three politicians are suspected of involvement with black-market money dealers who in plea bargain deals have said they helped move the money around along with former top Petrobras executives who acknowledged raking in hundreds of millions in bribes. That testimony paved the way for investigations into politicians who allegedly benefited.

The investigation of the bribery scheme has resulted in the arrest of more than 30 executives, including several from Brazil's top construction and engineering firms and three former directors from Petrobras.

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