July 5, 2018 / 12:55 PM / 4 months ago

Brazil Supreme Court removes minister amid corruption probe - source

BRASILIA/RIO DE JANEIRO, July 5 (Reuters) - Brazil’s Supreme Court has removed the nation’s labor minister from his post at the request of prosecutors, a source with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday, just a day after authorities arrested multiple high-ranking executives in a separate graft sting.

The court removed Helton Yomura temporarily at the request of federal prosecutors who are investigating a wide-ranging corruption scheme in which politicians and labor officials allegedly offered fraudulent union licenses in exchange for kickbacks, said the source, who requested anonymity as the matter is not yet public.

In a statement, federal prosecutors said they executed search warrants in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil’s Federal District, taking three people into custody. Yomura was a “target” of the investigation, they said, without offering any further details.

Brazilian news website G1 first reported Yomura’s removal.

The arrests of high-ranking political and business figures have become a routine matter in Brazil, particularly in Rio de Janeiro and the Federal District, where Congress and many federal agencies are located.

On Wednesday, Brazilian police arrested the chief executive officer of Latin America for General Electric Co, and raided a number of multinational firms, including Philips and Johnson & Johnson, as part of a probe into graft in the public health system.

Brazil’s Labor Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday, while Yomura could not be reached immediately. (Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu and Pedro Fonseca; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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