Se­na­tor caught hid­ing cash ‘down there’

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - —REUTERS

Abrazil­ian se­na­tor has been sus­pended af­ter the po­lice, who are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the al­leged mis­use of COVID-19 re­sponse funds, found cash hid­den be­tween his butt cheeks in a raid.

BRASILIA— Brazil­ian Sen. Chico Ro­drigues was caught in a po­lice raid with money hid­den be­tween his butt cheeks on Wed­nes­day, a ju­di­cial source briefed on the mat­ter told Reuters, amid an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mis­use of COVID-19 re­sponse fund­ing.

In the Senate, Ro­drigues rep­re­sents the north­ern state of Ro­raima and had also been cho­sen as deputy leader for the agenda of the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro, who won the pres­i­dency cam­paign­ing heav­ily on end­ing the cor­rup­tion of pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments.

‘Em­bar­rass­ment’

On Thurs­day af­ter­noon, Ro­drigues was sus­pended from the Senate for 90 days by Supreme Court Justice Luís Roberto Bar­roso, who said the Senate could de­cide whether to make the move per­ma­nent.

“The po­lice team pos­sesses a video of the sec­ond per­sonal search that was car­ried out,”

Bar­roso wrote in the Thurs­day de­ci­sion.

“How­ever, in this case, con­sid­er­ing the man­ner in which the money was hid­den by Sen. Chico Ro­drigues—quite deeply in his un­der­wear—i will not re­pro­duce th­ese images in this re­port so as not to cause greater em­bar­rass­ment.”

Ro­drigues con­firmed in a state­ment that his house was raided, with­out giv­ing de­tails. He de­nied wrong­do­ing and said he had been clean through­out his 30 years in politics.

His of­fice did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment on the cash al­legedly found down his pants, an in­ci­dent that was widely re­ported in ma­jor Brazil­ian news­pa­pers, cit­ing un­named sources.

Part of in­ves­ti­ga­tion

The fed­eral po­lice de­clined to com­ment, cit­ing the con­fi­den­tial­ity of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

In a state­ment on Wed­nes­day, the po­lice said they had car­ried out raids as part of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the pos­si­ble mis­use of con­gres­sional fund­ing di­rected to the health sec­re­tary in Ro­raima to pay for the COVID-19 re­sponse.

On Thurs­day, Bol­sonaro said the po­lice raid was ev­i­dence that his gov­ern­ment was fight­ing graft.

“There is no cor­rup­tion in my gov­ern­ment and we fight cor­rup­tion, who­ever it is,” he told sup­port­ers out­side his of­fi­cial res­i­dence.

Bol­sonaro’s anti­graft cre­den­tials have fal­tered since the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. His for­mer justice min­is­ter Ser­gio Moro, an im­mensely pop­u­lar ex-judge who was known for his tough stance on cor­rup­tion, re­signed ear­lier this year, al­leg­ing Bol­sonaro had sought to in­ter­fere in a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion for per­sonal gain, an al­le­ga­tion Bol­sonaro de­nies.

The pres­i­dent’s son is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for graft in Rio de Janeiro. Bol­sonaro and his son deny wrong­do­ing.

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