BRASILIA – Brazil’s Police raided the home of a top government official Thursday seeking evidence in yet another corruption case involving a member of embattled President Michel Temer’s Cabinet.
The operation was authorized by Brazil’s top court and is part of an investigation of Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi, who is suspected of bribing state lawmakers during his 2003-2010 terms as governor of Mato Grosso.
Police also raided offices of eight state lawmakers and the mayor of the state capital, Cuiaba, in connection with the case. The investigation began after a plea bargain was struck with Maggi’s successor as governor, Silval Barbosa.
A police statement did not say whether Maggi was present during the raid at his apartment in the national capital, Brasilia. Maggi denied any wrongdoing in his political or business dealings.
The warrant, as described by the G1 news site, accuses Maggi, 61, of “crimes of obstruction of an investigation into a criminal organization” in his home state.
“There was never a move by me or authorized by me to act illegally in my administration’s decisions or to obstruct justice,” he said in a statement.
But in the decision to green-light the raids, Supreme Court Justice Luiz Fux said there was “clear evidence” that Maggi also tried to obstruct justice by paying bribes to a former state government secretary.
Maggi is one of Brazil’s wealthiest agro-business leaders, known as the king of soybeans. He was elected senator in 2011 and named by Temer to his Cabinet post in May 2016. He has angered environmental protection groups, which accuse him of destroying Amazon forests.
Maggi is one of several Temer officials under investigation, and some have resigned in the last year over corruption allegations. The president himself was accused of corruption by the country’s top prosecutor but won a vote in Congress to avoid being suspended from office pending a trial.–MercoPress