December 4, 2018 / 3:37 PM / 2 years ago

Brazil president-elect's aide faces campaign funding probe

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s right-wing President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who was voted in on an anti-corruption platform, said on Tuesday he would take action if a campaign funding investigation into his future chief of staff shows wrongdoing.

Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro attends the graduation of the officers of the Military Academy of Agulhas Negras in Resende, Brazil December 1, 2018. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

Brazil’s Supreme Court on Monday authorized a federal investigation into allegations that Onyx Lorenzoni had taken illegal campaign donations.

“We are not worried. But if there is a solid accusation of irregularity ... we will take steps,” Bolsonaro told reporters.

Lorenzoni said in a statement that he was not concerned about the case and the probe would be a chance to clear his name.

The investigation is the second accusation of graft made against a top member of the incoming government of Bolsonaro before he has even taken power. The former army captain, whose term begins in January, was elected on a law-and-order platform by voters disgusted with widespread political corruption.

Prosecutor General Raquel Dodge has asked the Supreme Court to allow an investigation into whether Lorenzoni, a longtime federal congressman, took illegal donations from the world’s largest meatpacker, JBS SA.

In plea bargain testimony last year, executives of JBS said they made 200,000 reais ($52,290) of payments to Lorenzoni between 2012 and 2014, according to court documents seen by Reuters.

The testimony was part of a deal with prosecutors that saw J&F Investimentos SA, the holding company that controls JBS, pay a record 10.3 billions reais fine for bribing over 1,800 politicians at all levels in Brazil in recent years.

Bolsonaro’s future justice minister, Sergio Moro, who as a judge led a massive investigation into political corruption, said on Tuesday he had full confidence in Lorenzoni. Moro told reporters Lorenzoni had admitted his past errors and apologized, adding that he had been a strong supporter of anti-corruption measures prosecutors wanted Congress to pass.

Last week, federal police opened an investigation into Paulo Guedes, the future economy minister, and whether he committed fraud tied to pension funds of state-run firms. Guedes’ lawyers said he had done nothing wrong.

Reporting by Ricardo Brito, additional reporting by Anthony Boadle; Writing by Brad Brooks; Editing by Susan Thomas and Rosalba O'Brien

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