“Based on documents, testimonies and the final report of the preliminary investigation of the controller general of the Union (the federal state), possible indications of criminal practice for the release of public budgets were identified,” the Police explained in a note.
Ribeiro’s defense said in a note sent to AFP that the preventive detention, served in the house of the former minister, is “unfair” and “unquestionably unnecessary”and anticipated that he will present a habeas corpus so that he regains his freedom.
The newspaper Folha de S.Paulo revealed in March an audio in which the former minister, belonging to the radical wing of the Bolsonaro government, assured that, at the request of the president, he would give priority to the release of resources destined for education to municipalities governed by ” friends” of two influential pastors.
Ribeiro resigned from the Education portfolio on March 28, a week after the scandal broke out and was at the center of the investigation that culminated in his arrest on Wednesday, initiated by decision of the Federal Supreme Court (STF).
Bolsonaro, who in March had said that he was putting his “face in the fire” for Ribeiro and described the accusation as “cowardice”, tried on Wednesday to detach himself from his former minister.
“That he (Ribeiro) responds for his actions, I pray to God that he does not have any problem. But if he does, it is a sign that I do not interfere with the Police. That’s going to splash me, obviously. I have 23 ministersa hundred secretaries, more than 20,000 charges… if someone does something wrong, are they going to blame me?” Bolsonaro said in an interview on Wednesday.
Ribeiro took office in July 2020 as part of the ultra-conservative government, which came to power with strong support from the evangelical electorate.
In addition to Ribeiro, the police were trying to carry out four other arrest warrants and 13 raids in the states of Goiás (center-west), São Paulo (southeast), Pará (north) and the Federal District of Brasilia.
Police agents arrived Wednesday at the headquarters of the Ministry of Education in Brasilia in search of clues for the investigation.
The Police indicated that they are also investigating whether Ribeiro and other officials also committed crimes such as passive corruption and prevarication.
The crime of influence peddling in Brazil carries a sentence of between 2 and 5 years in prison.