Brazil president's eldest son denies allegations of money laundering

Brazil's Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, pictured in November 2019, is suspected of money laundering, according to a document from a prosecutor's office that was leaked to the media

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's eldest son denied allegations Thursday that he laundered money embezzled from public funds, after a document leaked by the media revealed he was implicated.

The document from the Rio de Janeiro prosecutor's office was leaked after searches of properties belonging to Flavio Bolsonaro, several former advisers, and members of Jair Bolsonaro's former wife's family, the mother of his fourth son, Renan.

Flavio Bolsonaro, who is now a senator, was a Rio state deputy from 2003 to 2018.

The document shows that Flavio is suspected of laundering money through the purchase of apartments in cash, for the amount of 638,400 reais, or about $157,000 at the current exchange rate.

"There is an absurd persecution against me in Rio de Janeiro, because they want to get to me in order to attempt to get to the president," Flavio Bolsonaro said in a video posted on social media.

"A message for you: You will not succeed. Because we have not done anything wrong," he said.

On Wednesday, a chocolate shop partly owned by Flavio -- and which, according to media reports, has been used to launder money -- was also searched.

The investigation by the prosecutor's office relates to the alleged practice of "rachadinha", a Brazilian term meaning the existence of ghost employees on the official payroll who pay part of their salaries to their employer.

In November, the Rio prosecutor's office launched another investigation linked to "the employment of ghost employees who would not have exercised a function within the office" of Flavio Bolsonaro.

On Thursday, President Bolsonaro, who was elected on the promise of waging a merciless fight against corruption, declined to comment, telling reporters: "I can only answer for myself."

Flavio Bolsonaro's lawyer, Frederick Wassef, said Wednesday that the senator had received news of the searches "with surprise, but with complete peace."

The scandal broke out a year ago, with the government agency charged with monitoring financial transactions highlighting "atypical transactions" on the account of Fabricio Queiroz, Flavio's former driver.

The document from the prosecutor's office leaked on Thursday also shows that Queiroz is said to have been responsible for collecting the payment of salaries of the parliamentarian's employees.

At least 483 deposits were made by these employees on Queiroz's account, for a total of more than two million reais (some $490,000).

Brazil's Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, pictured in November 2019, is suspected of money laundering, according to a document from a prosecutor's office that was leaked to the media