André Esteves, who is also a founder and the controlling shareholder of Brazil-headquartered BTG Pactual, resigned after prosecutors prepared to file charges against him.
Esteves and senator Delcídio do Amaral, head of the governing coalition in the senate, were arrested under suspicion of obstructing a long-running graft probe involving state-controlled oil giant Petrobras.
Documents suggest that in 2013 BTG Pactual paid BRL45m to the speaker of the lower house of Congress in exchange for passing legislation favouring the bank, according to local newspapers.
In the almost two-year investigation, 75 executives, money launderers, and political operatives have been convicted, as investigators found more than BRL6bn (£1bn, €1.47bn, $1.56bn) in bribes paid to Petrobras.
Initially held on a temporary arrest warrant, prosecutor general Rodrigo Janot used evidence and the testimony of other suspects to persuade Brazil’s Supreme Court to extend Esteves’ detention on a preventive basis. It is alleged that the Esteves and Amaral, along with two others, tried to bribe a key witness.
Esteves, through is lawyers, has denied any wrongdoing on all accounts.
Better than Goldman
According to Reuters, over the past year, Esteves has steered BTG Pactual through Brazil’s deepest recession in 25 years. He facilitated the acquisition of Swiss private bank BSI Group and invested heavily in global commodities trading as rivals retreated from the segment.
The company, Reuters said, has long outperformed Wall Street and reportedly has a longstanding internal joke that “BTG” stands for “Better than Goldman”.
BTG Pactual has categorically denied making any payments and claim that they in no way benefitted from legislation that supposedly favoured the bank.
The company also denied on Friday that it was looking for a buyer for the company, after a local magazine reported that BTG Pactual was looking to sell itself to Banco Bradesco or UBS.
Founded in 1983, BTG Pactual provides investment banking, wealth management, and asset management throughout Latin America, Europe, Asia.