(Adds comments from Odebrecht, Richa's defense team)
RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Brazilian police have arrested Beto Richa, the former governor of the southern state of Paraná, as part of an investigation into wrongdoing involving a government program aimed at bolstering policing in rural areas of the state, prosecutors said on Tuesday.
Separately, federal police said in a statement they were serving three arrest warrants in Curitiba, the state capital, in the latest stage of the sweeping corruption investigation known as Operation Car Wash.
Deonilson Roldo, Richa's former chief of staff, was among those targeted by the operation, a police representative said, along with businessmen Theodócio Atherino and Tiago Correia Adriano Rocha.
Police suspect that engineering conglomerate Odebrecht SA paid 4 million reais ($979,000) in bribes to Roldo and partners so he would limit competition in an auction of rights to expand, maintain and operate a state highway in Paraná.
Richa's defense team said on Tuesday that it did not have access to the details of the police allegations.
In a statement, Odebrecht, which has admitted numerous corruption-related wrongdoings throughout Latin America, said it "continues cooperating with authorities," and is focused on its current activities and new projects.
Police also served 33 search-and-seizure warrants in Paraná, São Paulo and the state of Bahia as part of the investigation.
$1 = 4.09 reais Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; Writing by Bruno Federowski in Brasília Editing by Bernadette Baum and Leslie Adler