BRASILIA – Brazil’s top prosecutor on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to open a criminal investigation into allegations that Environment Minister Ricardo Salles obstructed a federal police probe into illegal logging in the Amazon.
Salles has been leading U.S.-Brazil talks over funding to protect the Amazon jungle, the world’s largest rainforest, which is under threat from logging and fires. Last month, police searched properties connected to Salles and other officials in a probe of allegations they allowed illegal exports of timber from the Amazon region to the United States and Europe.
The top prosecutor’s office, known as the PGR, asked the Supreme Court for authorization to investigate Salles on suspicion of administrative crimes, for allegedly hindering both environmental inspections and investigation of organized crime.
In response to a request for comment, the Environment Ministry said the PGR’s request “will be a good opportunity to clarify all the facts.”
A growing chorus of environmental advocates and sustainability-focused investors have demanded that Salles be removed as minister for his efforts to roll back environmental protections in the country.
Last year, a video of a Cabinet meeting showed Salles saying the government should loosen environmental regulations while the public was distracted by COVID-19.