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Brazil labor minister suspended amid corruption investigation

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Staff Writer | July 7, 2018
Brazilian Minister of Labor Helton Yomura was suspended by the Supreme Federal Court (STF) following a police operation against an alleged criminal group involved in public fraud, said local press.
Helton Yomura
LatAm   This is the third phase of the "Spurious Registration" operation
The group, supposedly formed of politicians and public servants, fraudulently licensed unions on behalf of the Ministry of Labor.

According to the Federal Police (PF), the alleged perpetrators received political support in exchange for the fraudulent registrations.

STF judge Edson Fachin accepted the PF request to suspend the minister, said state-owned news agency Agencia Brasil.

Yomura was barred from entering ministry headquarters or maintaining contact staff. Yomura's chief of staff, Julio de Souza Bernardes, was also detained.

According to Brazilian news portal G1, Yomura attended the headquarters of the PF to undergo interrogation, though chose to remain silent throughout.

In a statement published by the minister's defense team, his lawyers stated that "Minister Helton Yomura, while not aware of what acts he is accused of, strongly denies any allegation of crime or irregularity."

The operation, named "Spurious Registration," carried out 10 search and seizure warrants, and three preemptive detention orders in the country's capital, Brasilia, and Rio de Janeiro.

The Brazilian Labor Party and Humanist Party of Solidarity, who control the Ministry of Labor, as well as other unions, are at the center of the investigation.

This is the third phase of the "Spurious Registration" operation, executed after material collected in previous phases showed the participation of new people involved in the fraud.

Additionally, the material demonstrated that Ministry of Labor positions were held by people related to the criminal group.