A former director of Brazilian state-controlled energy giant Petrobras' downstream operations was arrested Thursday for alleged links to a gang accused of laundering illicit proceeds.

Paulo Roberto Costa, a senior executive at Brazil's largest company for many years, was detained at his residence in Rio de Janeiro, the Federal Police said.

He also faces charges of destroying evidence.

Investigators say Costa's relatives destroyed documents that pertain to the consulting firm the former Petrobras executive opened after leaving the oil company and which allegedly link him to the criminal gang.

Unconfirmed press reports indicate Costa received a vehicle as a gift from the owner of a currency exchange house who was allegedly a member of the money-laundering ring.

That gang, dismantled Monday in an operation that resulted in the arrest of 24 people, stands accused of laundering nearly 10 billion reais (some $4.35 billion) in illicit proceeds.

The arrest of the former Petrobras executive comes at a time in which the Federal Police, Congress and the Attorney General's Office are investigating alleged irregularities at the state-controlled oil producer during his tenure with the company.

Petrobras is accused of accepting more than $100 million in bribes from Dutch rig leaser SBM Offshore in exchange for oil platform contracts.

The company's costly acquisition of an oil refinery in Texas in 2006 also has sparked controversy and is the subject of a federal investigation. EFE