According to the website UOL, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was involved in a plot to skim salaries of his assistants while a federal representative, according to audios of his former sister-in-law outlining his role in the alleged corruption racket.
The technique, known as rachadinha in Brazil, entails recruiting close friends as employees and then obtaining a portion of their public pay in return.
State prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro have filed official accusations against federal Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, the president’s eldest son, for his alleged involvement in a similar scam while he was a state legislator.
The UOL story, based on audio recordings of Bolsonaro’s former sister-in-law, Andrea Siqueira Valle, provided by a source, is the first time the president has been directly implicated in a rachadinha scheme, despite numerous awkward questions about his role in Flavio’s alleged racket in Rio. It comes as Bolsonaro is seeing his anti-graft credentials, which helped get him elected in 2018, questioned by a simmering scandal over alleged corruption in the government’s vaccine procurement efforts.
A Reuters request for comment on the UOL story was not immediately returned by the president’s office. When contacted by UOL, a lawyer for Bolsonaro denied any wrongdoing.
Andrea Siqueira Valle says her brother, André Siqueira, who was also on Bolsonaro’s payroll, was sacked for refusing to return the agreed-upon sum to the now-president in an audio recording.
On the audio, she states, “André had a lot of difficulties because he never returned the proper money that had to be repaid.”
“Eventually, Jair said … ‘Enough. You can get rid of him because he never gives me the right amount of money.'”
The authenticity of the recordings and the facts in the story could not be verified by Reuters. Andrea Siqueira Valle, as well as a lawyer, declined to respond to UOL.
According to UOL, Siqueira Valle notified persons close to her about the alleged racket being conducted out of Bolsonaro’s office on two separate occasions.
Bolsonaro might face a criminal investigation if he is accused of squandering public funds while serving as a federal senator. However, Brazilian law prohibits a sitting president from being prosecuted for any crimes committed prior to taking office. Prosecutors would instead have to wait until the president had left office before filing charges.