SAO PAULO, July 12 (Reuters) - A Brazilian federal judge on Thursday acquitted Banco BTG Pactual SA's founder and main partner André Esteves in a corruption probe, according to court documents.
Esteves was arrested in November 2015 after prosecutors accused him of trying to buy the silence of a witness involved in a sprawling bribery scheme.
Esteves was forced to leave the CEO position and swap his controlling voting shares for preferred stock after his arrest.
In a statement, Esteves' lawyers said that the outcome demonstrated that the arrest "was completely unnecessary and abusive." BTG Pactual did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
His acquittal will allow Esteves to return to the bank. In March, BTG Chief Financial Officer João Dantas said that Latin America's largest independent investment bank was preparing for the gradual return of Esteves. Dantas did not specify what his role would be. nL1N1QU0VO]
Fallout from the scandal included a wave of investment redemptions that forced the bank to sell assets.
Shares in BTG were up 2.64 percent in mid-afternoon trading, at 19.80 reais.
$1 = 3.8820 reais Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu and Carolina Mandl; Editing by Cynthia Osterman