Brazil police probe alleged corruption at Cemig, Furnas -source

BRASILIA, June 20 (Reuters) - Brazilian police are conducting a confidential probe into alleged corruption at state-run utilities Cemig and Eletrobras, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Some of those suspected of participating in a bribery scheme at the utilities includes former presidential hopeful and governor of Minas Gerais, Aecio Neves, said the source who asked for anonymity to speak freely.

“The civil police in Minas Gerais has been investigating those irregularities for more than a year,” said the source.

Police suspect politicians were bribed to use their influence to help companies that did business with the power companies. At state-run utility Eletrobras, police are focusing the probe on its unit Furnas, which generates about 10 percent of Brazil’s electricity.

Cemig, which is jointly owned by the state of Minas Gerais and builder Andrade Gutierrez, is trying to sell 6.5 billion reais in assets to reduce mounting debt.

Neves, who was the governor of Minas Gerais from 2003 to 2010, was suspended from the Senate last month amid accusations he took bribes from the world’s largest meatpacker, JBS SA

Neves, who has denied past corruption allegations, could not immediately be reached for comment. The press office of the civil police in Minas Gerais did not return calls seeking comment.

Furnas said in a statement that the company will always be willing to collaborate with authorities to clarify any issues. It added that the company is “the main interested party in clarifying all facts.”

The press office of Cemig said in a statement that the company will wait for the conclusion of the investigation before making any comments.

Eletrobras did not respond immediately to requests for comments. (Writing by Alonso Soto; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)