Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega’s chief of staff Marcel Fiche has resigned, his office has announced following accusations he received bribes from a contractor.
The magazine Epoca reported two weeks ago that Fiche and his technical advisor Humberto Alencar, who also has quit, allegedly received 60,000 reais (US$25,700) in kickbacks from a communications company in return for an inflated contract with the Finance Ministry.
Mantega immediately asked the Justice Ministry and the federal police to investigate the allegations.
”I have asked Minister Guido Mantega that I not return to Cabinet at the end of my vacations,” Fiche said in a statement late on Friday, denouncing the allegations as “lies,” adding that he wanted to contribute to a smooth and rapid probe.
“I can say in all tranquility that we conducted the bidding process for hiring this company for the ministry’s press office with total zeal and respect for public service,” he added.
The two officials had been put on leave after the scandal broke. Alencar who was responsible for overseeing the contract was reported to have approved extra hours and ghost employees to justify the amount paid by the ministry.
A number of ministers have been forced to leave their posts amid accusations of corruption since Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff assumed office in 2011.
In one recent case, a member of parliament was jailed, along with several senior officials of the ruling Workers Party, after being found guilty of taking part in a vast vote-buying scheme in the Congress during the administration of former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.