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Brazil president's eldest son suspected of money laundering: media

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Sao Paulo (AFP)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's eldest son is suspected of laundering money embezzled from public funds, according to a document from the Rio de Janeiro prosecutor's office revealed Thursday by the media.

The revelation comes after searches of properties belonging to Flavio Bolsonaro, several former advisers, and members of Jair Bolsonaro's former wife's family, the mother of his fourth son, Renan.

Flavio Bolsonaro, who is now a senator, was a Rio state deputy from 2003 to 2018.

The document shows that Flavio Bolsonaro is suspected of laundering money through the purchase of apartments in cash, for the amount of 638,400 reais, or about $157,000 at the current exchange rate.

On Wednesday, a chocolate shop partly owned by Flavio -- and which, according to media reports, has been used to launder money -- was also searched.

The investigation by the prosecutor's office relates to the alleged practice of "rachadinha," a Brazilian term meaning the existence of ghost employees on the official pay roll who pay part of their salaries to their employer.

In November, the Rio prosecutor's office launched another investigation linked to "the employment of ghost employees who would not have exercised a function within the office" of Flavio Bolsonaro.

On Thursday, President Bolsonaro, who was elected on the promise of waging a merciless fight against corruption, declined to comment, telling reporters: "I can only answer for myself."

Flavio Bolsonaro's lawyer, Frederick Wassef, said Wednesday that the senator had received news of the searches "with surprise, but with complete peace."

The scandal broke out a year ago, with the government agency charged with monitoring financial transactions highlighting "atypical transactions" on the account of Fabricio Queiroz, a former driver of the president's eldest son.

The document from the prosecutor's office leaked on Thursday also shows that Queiroz is said to have been responsible for collecting the payment of salaries of the parlementarian's employees.

At least 483 deposits were made by these employees on Queiroz's account, for a total of more than two million reais (some $490,000).

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