Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Picture: AFP/EVARISTO SA
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Picture: AFP/EVARISTO SA

Brasília — A police investigation closed in on Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro’s family with the arrest of a former aide to one of his sons, fueling political tensions that are already running high in Latin America’s largest economy.

Police are probing Fabrício Queiroz’s participation in an alleged corruption scheme involving the appropriation of salaries from employees of Flávio Bolsonaro’s office while he was a lawmaker in the Rio de Janeiro state legislature for more than a decade.

The investigation has been confirmed by public prosecutors and its contents have been published in a series of reports by the local media.

His arrest adds pressure to a government facing encroaching criminal probes on multiple fronts. It comes a day after the majority of Brazil’s supreme court voted to move forward with a sprawling investigation into fake news that’s ensnared some of Bolsonaro’s allies. The president also faces a separate probe into allegations made by his former justice minister that he tried to interfere in the federal police.

Queiroz, an aide to Bolsonaro’s eldest son until 2018, was found at a farm in the state of São Paulo belonging to a lawyer of the presidential family and taken into custody early on Thursday, according to a statement from public prosecutors. News website G1 reported that police also searched property in Rio de Janeiro that belongs to Jair Bolsonaro himself.

Flávio Bolsonaro said the arrest is part of a strategy to attack his father. “I face today’s events with tranquility. The truth will prevail,” he posted on his Twitter account.

The president’s press office didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Queiroz is a long-time friend of the Bolsonaro family. They have been seen fishing together, eating barbecue, and at the beach with mutual friends. In the past, the president has reacted harshly when asked about Queiroz, giving combative responses to questions about him and the investigation into his son.

Bloomberg