Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Targeted In Corruption Probe

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BRASILIA – Brazilian federal police have raided the home of Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi after corruption allegations were launched against the official by former state Governor Mato Grosso Silval Barbosa.

As part of the large scale investigation known as Operation Car Wash, Federal Supreme Court Minister Luiz Fux issued the order for a search and seizure at Maggi’s home at the request of the attorney general’s office.

The investigation follows allegations made by Barbosa, who said the agriculture minister accepted a number of bribes in connection to the Petrobras corruption scandal between the years 2007 and 2010, allegedly receiving a total of US$4 million to fund his reelection campaign for governor.

According to Barbosa, a cloud of suspicious irregularities surrounding the minister and his finances, including a “monthly” pay rate distributed to certain deputies of the Mato Grosso State Assembly which he stated was allocated in order to secure support in the voting booth.

“In the year 2003, there was an increase of R12 million (US$4 million) to R15 million (US$5 million) in the budget of the Legislative Assembly so that they could remove the undue advantages,” Barbosa said.

The indictment goes on to state that in 2010, in a fight for an official title, an agreement was proposed to Barbosa which would hand him the governor’s post and Maggio a seat in the senate. However, there was a catch: Barbosa would have to assume all campaign debts in order to win Maggio’s support.

The agriculture ministry did not respond to inquiries by Reuters.

However, in a statement issued last month, following the investigation’s launch, Maffio said he viewed the event with “strangeness and indignation.” He continued to state that agreements of the sort proposed by Barbosa “cast doubt on the credibility and image of public figures to exercise with righteousness in positions of public administration.”

Currently, 10 other Brazilian ministers are under investigation for suspected corruption by the Federal Supreme Court, with senate-imposed president Michel Temer facing a continuous stream of accusations.–BERNAMA-NNN-TELESUR