Brazilian officials on Tuesday arrested the former health secretary of Rio de Janeiro state, Sergio Cortes, on charges of bribery.

Cortes is accused of taking part in a long-running scheme that demanded bribes from private companies in exchange for contracts to supply the state healthcare system.

The bribery came to light after another suspect turned state’s evidence in exchange for a more lenient sentence.

According to Federal Police, Cortes and others took 10 percent of the total value of all contracts, and the money was deposited in bank accounts in the United States.

Former State Governor Sergio Cabral was also involved in the scheme. He has been in jail since late 2016 on separate corruption charges.

Between 2006 and 2017, the scheme siphoned off some 300 million reals (95 million U.S. dollars) from the Health Secretariat, authorities said.

The state healthcare system is in shambles, and the state government last year declared it was in a state of financial emergency, with not enough funds to pay civil servants. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/