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Exclusive: Senior aide to Brazil farm minister targeted by graft probe

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – A senior adviser to Brazilian Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias is at present remaining investigated about his management of a public agreement five several many years back, in accordance to two persons right now acquainted with the concern and paperwork from an within ministry probe viewed by Reuters.

In accordance to the paperwork and the assets, who spoke on problem of anonymity, Distinctive Adviser Francisco Basílio Freitas de Souza is beneath investigation for bid-rigging and misspending of neighborhood money.

The confidential probe has induced a legal investigation, in accordance to prosecutors. The probe will come as the ministry attempts to flip the web page on bribery scandals, with new President Jair Bolsonaro vowing zero tolerance for graft.

Souza, an official at authorities agriculture investigation company Embrapa looking at that 1976, was in demand of coordinating a career which concerned awarding a agreement in 2014 to an IT organization to revamp approaches for the high-quality command of agricultural items at the ministry.

In October 2018, the ministry’s inner auditors opened a official investigation into the prosperous IT firm’s contract and alerted law enforcement and prosecutors to the probe, the files show.

In December 2018, Souza was allow go from the undertaking, the government’s formal gazette stated at the time, with no the need to have of giving a motive.

That identical thirty day time period, he joined the changeover workers for the incoming Bolsonaro govt and a thirty day time period later on on the president’s Most important of Workers Onyx Lorenzoni named him as distinctive adviser to the minister.

Lorenzoni’s push workplace declined to say if he understood of the probe at the time of Souza’s appointment.

The Agriculture Ministry claimed in a statement sent to Reuters on Wednesday, “There is no authorized impediment to a civil servant focused in an administrative probe from getting a politically appointed role.”

It declined to make Dias or Souza available for remark and reported it was cooperating with authorities investigating the agreement, which incorporated a lot more than one particular certain civil servant. It also declined to disclose specifics of the inner investigation, introducing that the “reasonable” length of this sort of proceedings was 140 days.

Federal prosecutors had asked law enforcement to begin an investigation into the awarding of the deal, a media representative for the prosecutors explained, declining to provide details. Federal law enforcement did not react to a inquire for for comment.

Dias is conscious of the ongoing investigation, in accordance to the two persons right now acquainted with the matter. There is no signal that she is implicated in any wrongdoing.

Souza’s neighborhood agenda reveals he is a man or woman of the minister’s busiest aides, starting to be a member of her frequently on domestic and foreign excursions, and representing the ministry in meetings with the Globe Monetary institution and the Japan Worldwide Cooperation Business.

MEATPACKER SCANDAL

The Agriculture Ministry is carry on to recovering from a 2017 scandal that observed law enforcement existing evidence of a bribery approach in which officers assisted meatpackers to cheat on sanitary inspections.

The scandal led significant global marketplaces to ban meat imports from Brazil.

In the within probe involving Souza, which is not linked to the inspections scandal, investigators observed proof he could maybe have broken bidding rules when the government signed a deal with no the need to have of a competing bidder, overpaying by at minimal four million reais ($one.one million), in accordance to the ministry paperwork.

Magna Sistemas Consultoria SA, the IT company that acquired the agreement to bolster the Agriculture Ministry’s globally oversight and foodstuff superior high-quality deal with protocols, has also worked for state oil business Petroleo Brasileiro SA and other ministries.

Magna stated in a statement it acquired the career lawfully and fulfilled all its obligations as a consequence of the conclude of the contract previous yr. It stated the ministry seasoned not formally inquired about the bidding program until finally eventually April 2019.

The enterprise claimed it did not have comprehending of any investigation requested by the federal prosecutors.

Quite final yr, Souza was tapped to flip out to be vice president for agriculture at problem loan supplier Banco do Brasil SA, region media have described. Newspaper Valor Economico mentioned in January that he shed out on the job following failing a qualifications examine.

Banco do Brasil claimed in a statement that its eligibility committee had not evaluated Souza. He declined to go in advance with the technique following obtaining paperwork for the track record check out, in accordance to a man or woman prevalent with the matter.

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