Former Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Zacheaus Somorin with agency reports

Former Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has been detained as part of a huge fraud inquiry into the state oil company, Petrobras.

The former president’s house was raided by federal police agents and he was brought in for questioning. Lula, who left office in 2011, has denied allegations of corruption.

The long-running inquiry, known as Operation Car Wash, is probing accusations of corruption and money laundering at Petrobras.

Officials say some 33 search warrants and 11 detention warrants are being carried out by 200 federal police agents in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Bahia.

Mr Lula’s house in Sao Bernardo do Campo, near Sao Paulo, was raided early on Friday. The headquarters of his institute in Sao Paulo was also targeted, as were his wife, Marisa, and sons, reports say.

Mr Lula was succeeded by Dilma Rousseff as Brazilian president in 2011. One of the lines of inquiry is that construction companies targeted by the operation could have favoured Mr Lula in the development of a ranch and a beachfront apartment.

Dozens of executives and politicians have been arrested or are under investigation on suspicion of overcharging contracts with Petrobras and using part of the money to pay for bribes.

Mr Lula, from the Workers’ Party, served two terms as president and was succeeded in office by his political protege, Dilma Rousseff.

He led Brazil during a time of rapid economic growth and is credited for lifting millions of people out of poverty.

He still is a well-liked figure but his popularity has been hit by recent allegations that he either had knowledge or involvement in the wrongdoings.