FILE PHOTO: Luciano Bivar President of the Social Liberal Party (PSL) is seen at the National Congress, in Brasilia, Brazil February 20, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Brazilian federal police launched a corruption probe on Tuesday to investigate the head of President Jair Bolsonaro’s right-wing Social Liberal Party (PSL) Luciano Bivar, a police source told Reuters.
In a statement, police said “Operation Guinhol” was investigating whether representatives of a political party had concealed transfers of party funds, especially to women candidates, in the northeastern state of Pernambuco.
According to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose details of the operation, PSL is the party under investigation and nine search and seizure warrants in addresses related to PSL’s president Bivar were being executed.
In a statement, a lawyer representative for PSL and Bivar said “there is no evidence of fraud in the electoral process”, adding the investigation started 10 months ago and several witnesses were heard.
The operation comes amid a spat between the Brazilian president and Bivar, which might result in Bolsonaro’s exit from the party. Last week, Bolsonaro and PSL parliamentarians dissatisfied with Bivar requested information on the party’s finances.
Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; Additional reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia; Writing by Gabriela Mello; Editing by Alex Richardson and Jon Boyle