Brazilian police investigating Education Ministry corruption allegations, source says

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attends an event to promote the production and sustainable use of biomethane at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil on March 21, 2022.REUTERS/Adriano Machado

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BRASILIA, March 25 (Reuters) – Brazil’s federal police have opened an investigation into allegations of corruption in the education ministry, a police source told Reuters on Friday, which could increase pressure on President Jair Bolsonaro before the October elections.

The investigation comes after local media reported that two pastors allegedly got preferential treatment for funding requests from their municipalities in return for bribes.

Later Friday, federal police launched another investigation into Education Minister Milton Ribeiro’s role in the case, according to local media reports.

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The federal police did not confirm the opening of the investigations.

The Folha de S. Paulo newspaper published audio clips of Ribeiro’s appearances this week to claim that requests for funding from pastors would be prioritized. He was quoted as saying the funding decisions were in line with Bolsonaro’s wishes.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the recording.

Ribeiro denied any wrongdoing and said he called for an investigation into the matter following an anonymous tip he received.

The presidential press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Federal police declined to comment.

The source, who requested anonymity because the investigation had not been officially announced, said the investigation did not target Ribeiro.

The scandal comes as Bolsonaro trails in the polls ahead of this year’s presidential election, behind leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Bolsonaro was elected in 2018 on a law and order platform, vowing to root out corruption from Brazilian politics, but his term in office has been marred by corruption allegations against his family members and allies. Read more

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Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello in Brasilia Writing by Carolina Pulice Editing by Stephen Eisenhammer, Matthew Lewis and Leslie Adler

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