Brazil president-elect’s aide faces campaign funding probe

BRASILIA,  (Reuters) – Brazil’s right-wing President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who was voted in on an anti-corruption platform, said on Tuesday he would take action if a campaign funding investigation into his future chief of staff shows wrongdoing.

Brazil’s Supreme Court on Monday authorized a federal investigation into allegations that Onyx Lorenzoni had taken illegal campaign donations.

“We are not worried. But if there is a solid accusation of irregularity … we will take steps,” Bolsonaro told reporters.

Lorenzoni said in a statement that he was not concerned about the case and the probe would be a chance to clear his name.

The investigation is the second accusation of graft made against a top member of the incoming government of Bolsonaro before he has even taken power. The former army captain, whose term begins in January, was elected on a law-and-order platform by voters disgusted with widespread political corruption.

Prosecutor General Raquel Dodge has asked the Supreme Court to allow an investigation into whether Lorenzoni, a longtime federal congressman, took illegal donations from the world’s largest meatpacker, JBS SA.

In plea bargain testimony last year, executives of JBS said they made 200,000 reais ($52,290) of payments to Lorenzoni between 2012 and 2014, according to court documents seen by Reuters.

The testimony was part of a deal with prosecutors that saw J&F Investimentos SA, the holding company that controls JBS, pay a record 10.3 billions reais fine for bribing over 1,800 politicians at all levels in Brazil in recent years.

Bolsonaro’s future justice minister, Sergio Moro, who as a judge led a massive investigation into political corruption, said on Tuesday he had full confidence in Lorenzoni. Moro told reporters Lorenzoni had admitted his past errors and apologized, adding that he had been a strong supporter of anti-corruption measures prosecutors wanted Congress to pass.

 

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