President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, has been accused of involvement in a corruption scheme to receive part of his aides’ salaries, while he was federal deputy, Brazilian website UOL reported on Monday.
The report by UOL is based on audio recordings of Bolsonaro’s former sister-in-law, Andrea Siqueira Valle, leaked to the press through a source. In the audio recordings Bolsonaro’s former sister-in-law allegedly explained his role in the purported scheme. It is reported that the racket involved hiring close associates as employees and receiving a cut of their public salaries back from them.
This is the first accusation against Bolsonaro, in the scheme known locally as rachadinha. The President’s eldest son, federal senator Flavio Bolsonaro, however has been accused of corruption before, with Rio de Janeiro state prosecutors immediately pressing charges against him. He participated in a similar racket as a state lawmaker.
However, President Bolsonaro seems to be having a rough time, following the Brazilian Supreme Court’s authorization of a criminal investigations involving Covid-19 corruption related schemes in the health ministry.
He is also implicated in irregularities of some 1.6 Billion reais ($315m) contract signed in February with a Brazilian intermediary of the, Indian vaccine maker Bharat Biotech, for 20 million doses. He has denied any involvement in such a scheme.
President Bolsonaro’s corruption accusations come at a time when he is facing widespread public anger and protests over his approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bolsonaro was formerly popular for his manifesto to root out corruption in Brazil, having been elected in the year 2018 at a time when corruption was at its peak.
Despite his popularity, the citizens of Brazil have felt helpless because of his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has so far killed 524,000 people. He is currently under investigation by a senate commission for his government’s pandemic policies.
Mass protests have also been recorded over the weekend in Brazil, with citizens demanding Bolsonaro’s resignation over the Covid-19 crisis.