Police seek Brazilian tycoon over corruption claims

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image captionMr Batista made and lost a fortune during Brazil's commodities boom

Police are seeking one of Brazil's best known businessmen after he failed to turn himself in as part of a corruption investigation.

Eike Batista - who was once the country's richest man - was among nine people issued with arrest warrants on Thursday in connection with a wider $100m corruption scandal.

He is accused of paying $16.5m (£13m) in bribes to former Rio governor Sergio Cabral to win government contracts.

Mr Cabral was detained in December.

According to reports, police failed to find Mr Batista when they raided his home in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday and believe he may have flown to New York using a German passport.

Mr Batista's lawyer, Fernando Martins, said he was travelling and planned to turn himself in on his return.

However, police said they would class him a fugitive if he did not contact them soon and would seek his arrest through Interpol.

Daniel Gallas, BBC South America business correspondent

During much of the last decade, Eike Batista was seen by many as the face of Brazilian capitalism.

Bold, extravagant and charismatic, he made most of his fortune during the commodities boom that brought great wealth to Brazil.

But Mr Batista has plenty of critics too. Some say he was overconfident and sold projects to investors that were too good to be true - and were never concluded.

And in the past years, he made the headlines with all sorts of legal troubles - being accused of money-laundering and even stock exchange fraud.

In the process, he is reported to have lost all of his fortune, which at one point was estimated to be about $34bn.

Some will say that Mr Batista remains a symbol of the Brazilian economy, where false promises of great wealth ended in crisis and court battles.

Mr Batista, 60, made his fortune during Brazil's commodities boom of the last decade, with his Grupo EBX conglomerate spanning mining, oil, shipbuilding and logistics.

By 2012 he was listed by Forbes Magazine as the world's seventh richest man, with an estimated fortune of $35bn.

But by 2013, Grupo EBX had collapsed after global demand for commodities crashed, and Mr Batista's wealth slumped to under $1bn.

His arrest has been linked to a wider corruption probe in Brazil into the so-called "Car Wash" scandal.

It has focused on relationships between members of the current PMDB party administration, the former Workers Party administration, and some of Brazil's most prominent businessmen over contracts at oil company Petrobras and other state firms.

More than 100 people, including Brazil's most powerful building tycoon, Marcelo Bahia Odebrecht, have been convicted of crimes such as bribery, racketeering and money-laundering.

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