May 2, 2018 / 11:23 PM / 6 months ago

Brazil agriculture minister faces corruption charge

Brazil's Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi arrives to a news conference in Brasilia, Brazil April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian prosecutors filed charges against the country’s Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi on Wednesday, accusing him of orchestrating a bribery scheme in 2009 when he was governor of Mato Grosso state.

Prosecutor General Raquel Dodge filed charges at the Supreme Court, according to a written statement from the federal prosecutor’s office.

Maggi denies any wrongdoing, said the press office of the agriculture minister in a written statement.

Under Brazilian law, Maggi, as a government minister, can only face a trial if the Supreme Court approves it. There was no indication on Wednesday as to when the court would make a decision.

Dodge accused Maggi of participating in a scheme to pay a judge on the Mato Grosso state audit court 12 million reais ($3.4 million) in public funds to retire, so that Sergio Ricardo de Almeida, who was a Mato Grosso state lawmaker, could take the post, which he did.

Almeida was removed from the court last year and faces a trial in a lower-level federal court in connection with the supposed scheme.

Almeida could not be reached for comment.

($1 = 3.5515 Brazilian reais)

Reporting by Ricardo Brito in Brasilia and Eduardo Simoes in Sao Paulo; writing by Ana Mano, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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