Once Brazil’s Richest Man, Eike Batista Sought for Graft

January 26, 2017 Updated: January 26, 2017

RIO DE JANEIRO—Brazilian police issued an arrest warrant Thursday for a businessman famous for amassing and then losing a multi-billion-dollar fortune, the latest person caught up in a wide-ranging corruption probe roiling Latin America’s largest nation.

Federal police were working with Interpol to locate Eike Batista, who might be in New York. Batista’s lawyer Fernando Martins told the G1 news portal that his client was traveling and would surrender to police.

Tacio Muzzi, an inspector with the federal police, told a news conference that if Batista doesn’t turn himself in soon, he will be considered a fugitive from justice. He did not give a specific deadline.

Muzzi added that Batista appears to have used his German passport to leave Brazil.

Batista is being sought for allegedly paying bribes to former Rio de Janeiro state Gov. Sergio Cabral, apparently to gain an advantage in government contracts.

Prosecutor Eduardo El Hage told reporters that Batista paid $16.5 million to Cabral in foreign bank accounts. Officials said Thursday that they were still investigating what the money was for.

Cabral is facing several corruption charges and was jailed last year.

Globo Television showed images of police going to Batista’s home in Rio de Janeiro earlier in the day. He was not found.

In 2011, Batista was listed by Forbes magazine as the world’s eighth-richest person. By 2013, his fortune had crumbled amid debts in his various energy sector companies.