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Ex-driver of Brazil president-elect's son called to explain suspicious funds

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RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – The former driver of Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s son, Senator-elect Flavio Bolsonaro, was to speak with prosecutors on Friday to explain irregular payments that have tarnished a family known for its anti-graft stance.

Fabricio Queiroz, who for years was on Flavio Bolsonaro’s payroll, is under pressure to explain 1.2 million reais (£245,514) that flowed through his bank account between 2016-2017, including payments to the president-elect’s wife, Michelle Bolsonaro.

Her husband, Jair Bolsonaro, easily won the October election with a promise to ends years of political graft, and the scandal has hurt the reputation of a family that promised to put an end to grubby political corruption.

Queiroz was originally due to explain the money to prosecutors on Wednesday. But he did not show up, and his lawyers cited a health crisis that prevented him from appearing.

According to Brazil’s Council for Financial Activities Control, which identified the suspicious transactions, some of the payments to Queiroz’ bank account were made by other employees on Flavio Bolsonaro’s payroll when he served as a Rio de Janeiro state lawmaker, including by Queiroz’ own daughter. Many of the deposits were made on or around the same day that the state congress paid employees.

Flavio and Jair Bolsonaro have denied any wrongdoing.

Jair Bolsonaro said the payment to his wife was Queiroz repaying a personal loan. He added that if he made a mistake by not declaring the money from Queiroz, he would rectify it with tax authorities.

Flavio Bolsonaro has said that Queiroz gave him a “plausible” explanation of the origin of the money and that the accusations are intended to destabilise the Bolsonaro family.

(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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