In Brazil Police raid agriculture minister's home

Brazilian police raided the house of Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi in a corruption probe early Thursday, adding yet more pressure on the scandal-plagued government of President Michel Temer.

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Brazilian Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi, pictured in March 2017, issued a statement saying "nothing was ever done by me, or authorized by me, to act illegally... or to obstruct justice" play

Brazilian Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi, pictured in March 2017, issued a statement saying "nothing was ever done by me, or authorized by me, to act illegally... or to obstruct justice"

(AFP/File)
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Brazilian police raided the house of Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi in a corruption probe early Thursday, adding yet more pressure on the scandal-plagued government of President Michel Temer.

Federal police said in a statement that authorities were searching 64 addresses in the capital Brasilia, Sao Paulo and the state of Mato Grosso. They did not name the people being targeted.

Major Brazilian news sites said the principal suspect was Maggi, Temer's agriculture chief, a farming tycoon and a former governor of Mato Grosso. An AFP photographer saw police leave Maggi's Brasilia home carrying a computer.

Police were serving a search warrant issued by the Supreme Court, which handles cases involving ministers and other federal-level politicians.

The warrant, as described by the G1 news site, accuses Maggi, 61, of "crimes of obstruction of an investigation into a criminal organization" in his home state.

Maggi issued a statement saying "nothing was ever done by me, or authorized by me, to act illegally... or to obstruct justice."

"I want to make it clear that I will use all necessary legal means to defend myself and to re-establish the truth of the facts."

Maggi oversees a soybean empire, growing and exporting the commodity, earning himself the nickname "Soya King." He has angered environmental protection groups, which accuse him of destroying Amazon forests.

About a third of Temer's cabinet and several of his close allies in the center-right Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) are already under investigation for corruption.

The president himself is fighting multiple allegations of corruption, and Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot is widely expected to file a criminal charge of obstruction of justice against him this week.

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