Brazil agriculture minister faces corruption charge

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi speaks during the presentation of the performance of the agribusiness sector during 2017, including the number of exports, at the Ministry of Agriculture in Brasilia, Brazil January 16, 2018. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

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