December 18, 2019 / 1:58 PM / 2 months ago

Brazil investigators carry out raids amid graft probe into Bolsonaro's son

FILE PHOTO: Brazil’s Senator Flavio Bolsonaro smiles near Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro after the launch of a new political party, the Alliance for Brazil (APB) in Brasilia, Brazil November 21, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Rio de Janeiro state prosecutors on Wednesday raided properties of the former staff of Flavio Bolsonaro, the son of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, and relatives of the president’s ex-wife, according to prosecutors and two sources familiar with the matter.

The current investigation is an offshoot from an earlier probe looking into suspicious payments to staff from when Senator Flavio Bolsonaro was a Rio state lawmaker. The original investigation was frozen by Brazil’s Supreme Court earlier this year, but later unshelved.

Flavio Bolsonaro has insisted he is innocent of any crimes. However, the investigation has been a stain on him and his father’s young administration, which came to power vowing to kick out years of political graft in Brazil.

Investigators carried out 24 raids as part of the probe into Fabrício Queiroz, Flavio Bolsonaro’s former employee at the state legislature who is being investigated on suspicion of helping skim phantom employees’ salaries, the Rio state prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

It added that due to the secrecy of the case, it could not reveal any more details.

They also carried out search warrants at properties linked to the ex-wife of President Jair Bolsonaro, Ana Cristina Valle, the sources said.

In a statement, Queiroz said he was surprised by the raids, but was unconcerned by them, “since he has always cooperated with the investigations.”

A spokesman for Flavio Bolsonaro had no immediate comment. Reuters was unable to reach Ana Cristina Valle.

Writing by Gabriel Stargardter; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Macfie

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