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Brazil leader says son will 'pay the price' if wrongdoing proved

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Davos (Switzerland) (AFP)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, elected on promises to stamp out graft, said in an interview Wednesday that a politician son of his under scrutiny for suspicious financial transactions will "pay the price" if wrongdoing is found.

Bolsonaro made the remark about his son Flavio Bolsonaro, a senator-elect in Brazil's new Congress, to the financial news agency Bloomberg as he attended the annual Davos gathering of the globe's political and corporate chiefs.

"If by chance he erred and it were proven, I regret it as a father, but he?ll have to pay the price for those actions we can?t accept," Bolsonaro said.

It was his clearest statement yet that he was leaving Flavio to face the mounting suspicions alone.

The burgeoning scandal at home has badly embarrassed the president, who has taken a strong stand against graft.

Brazil's COAF agency that fights financial crimes reportedly discovered 48 deposits made to Flavio's bank account over a few days in June-July 2017, some of them just minutes apart, for a total 96,000 reais ($25,000 at the current exchange rate).

The agency is also looking at over $300,000 in transactions made in the name of Flavio's former driver and bodyguard, Fabricio Queiroz, that far exceeded the aide's salary as a police officer.

Two of those transactions, amounting to around $6,000, were deposits to an account held by President Bolsonaro's wife. The leader said they were repayments of an undeclared loan.

Brazil's supreme court, at Flavio's request, last week ordered a suspension of the probe against Queiroz, who for medical reasons has not testified.

- Denials -

Brazilian media have reported that property investments by Flavio -- previously a lawmaker in Rio de Janeiro's state legislature -- have soared exponentially in recent years.

They have also highlighted that Flavio's office hired relatives of a fugitive former policeman wanted for allegedly leading an armed gang controlling territory in some of Rio's lawless slums.

Flavio, in television interviews over the weekend, said none of the deposits to his account were illicit. He also said the transactions related to Queiroz were his former aide's responsibility.

The affair has become the first major scandal faced by Jair Bolsonaro, who on Tuesday addressed Davos by saying that when he took office on January 1, "I took over a Brazil in a profound ethical, moral and economic crisis."

The 63-year-old far-right leader, a former army captain and veteran lawmaker, said he was honoring his campaign pledges to combat corruption.

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