Swiss investigate J. Safra Sarasin amid Brazilian 'car wash' probe

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ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss federal prosecutors said they had opened an investigation of private bank J. Safra Sarasin as part of a wide-ranging corruption probe surrounding Brazilian state oil company Petrobras PETR4.SA and construction firm Odebrecht.

The Office of the Attorney General opened proceedings against the Basel-based bank in November 2018, it said in an emailed statement on Thursday.

It cited suspicions that weaknesses in the bank’s internal organisation had failed to prevent complicity in bribery of foreign officials and aggravated money laundering.

J. Safra Sarasin had no immediate comment.

Prosecutors in Bern filed their first indictment in the sprawling “Operation Car Wash” case on Tuesday against a person whom they said acted as a financial middle man and who already faced criminal proceedings in Brazil and Portugal.

One of the biggest corruption cases in Latin America has resulted in the imprisonment of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, among others. More than 130 politicians and business officials have been convicted in Brazil.

Swiss federal prosecutors have around 60 criminal cases under way linked to the Petrobras-Odebrecht complex, two of them against financial groups.

Reporting by Emma Farge in Geneva; Additional reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi in Zurich; Editing by Michael Shields and Matthew Lewis