Senator Chico Rodrigues, who represents the state of Roraima in the Federal Senate, confirmed that a raid took place at his home in Boa Vista, Roraima’s capital city. He denied anything wrong.
According to a Supreme Court order citing a police investigation, the police video showed that Rodrigues put about 15,000 reals (about $2,700) on paper while searching the house. When the senator insisted that “I put my hand in my underwear and took another money, totaling 17,900 reals,” the authorities found more money, with a total cash of over $5,800.
The judge did not approve the release of the video.
A court order issued Thursday suspends Rodrigues for 90 days to comply with ongoing investigations.
CNN Brasil turned to Rodrigues’ office for comments.
But in a statement to the media, Rodrigues suggested that the search was an attempt to undermine his reputation. He wrote, “I invaded the house just by bringing resources to combat Covid-19 for the State Department of Health and serving as a lawmaker.”
“I will prove that I don’t have it and that it has nothing to do with any fault,” he wrote.
Brazilian Supreme Court Minister Luis Roberto Barroso wrote that an investigation is needed to see if Rodriguez is “using his parliamentary function to turn the money he will have to face the biggest epidemic in the last 100 years.”
According to the court order, “There are indications that the senator has been involved in criminal gangs in the state of Loraima with the aim of deviating the value of the corona 19-related action.” The federal police investigator also said that “the money found on the body of the senator during the attack has not been proven to be a legitimate source, and is likely to result from a crime of embezzlement gained as a result of the expensive contracts investigated.”
Federal legislators in Brazil are in most cases protected from criminal prosecution by parliamentary immunity.
The raid was part of a series conducted by police in a police investigation into possible misuse of designated public resources to combat the coronavirus pandemic that devastated Brazil. More than 152,000 people have died and more than 5.1 million have been infected, making it the world’s third-most patient country.
Rodriguez was elected deputy head of government by President Bol So Naru, who campaigned for public office on an anti-corruption platform.
“I say to people who know me: stay calm. I trust justice. I will prove that I do not have and have nothing to do with any fault,” Rodrigues wrote in his statement.