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Brazil police probe Education Ministry graft allegations, says source

Activists from the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) protest against Brazilian Education Minister Milton Ribeiro, in front of the Ministry of Education in Brasilia March 25, 2022. — Reuters pic

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BRASILIA, March 26 — Brazil’s Federal Police have opened an investigation into allegations of corruption in the Education Ministry, a police source told Reuters yesterday, potentially adding to pressure on President Jair Bolsonaro ahead of October elections.

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

Newspaper Folha de S.Paulo published this week audio extracts of Education Minister Milton Ribeiro appearing to affirm that funding applications from the pastors would be given priority. He was quoted as saying the funding decisions aligned with the wishes of Bolsonaro.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the recording.

Ribeiro denied any wrongdoing and said that he had invited investigation into the matter following an anonymous tip that he received.

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

The source, who requested anonymity because the probe had not been formally announced, said the investigation was not targeting Ribeiro.

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

Bolsonaro was elected in 2018 on a law and order platform, vowing to wipe corruption out of Brazilian politics, but his term has been dogged by graft allegations against his family members and allies. — Reuters

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