Flávio Bolsonaro takes understudy role in Senate inquiry, gaining access to sealed documents

president son Senator Flávio Bolsonaro. Photo: Jefferson Rudy/SF/CC-BY 4.0
Senator Flávio Bolsonaro. Photo: Jefferson Rudy/SF/CC-BY 4.0

With Senator Ciro Nogueira appointed as the government’s new Chief of Staff, President Jair Bolsonaro’s eldest son Flávio has become an understudy on the Senate hearings committee to investigate the administration’s pandemic response. As a substitute member of the inquiry, Mr. Bolsonaro will now have access to all documents received by the committee, even those deemed confidential.

Mr. Nogueira’s full membership will be handed to Senator Luiz Carlos Heinze, another of the president’s most loyal allies in the inquiry. Whenever Mr. Heinze is unable to attend a committee meeting, Flávio Bolsonaro will have the right to take part and ask questions to witnesses.

The president’s eldest son has an adversarial relationship with the inquiry rapporteur Renan Calheiros, who believes Flávio Bolsonaro is involved in the vaccine corruption allegations being investigated by senators. Mr. Calheiros has even requested access to Mr. Bolsonaro’s confidential banking and phone records.

During the course of the Senate’s Covid inquiry, weekly magazine Veja revealed that Flávio Bolsonaro brokered a meeting between the head of Brazil’s development bank BNDES and the owner of Precisa Medicamentos, the pharmaceutical firm at the center of corruption allegations involving the purchase of Indian-made Covaxin vaccines. On Tuesday, Brazil’s health regulators suspended all imports of the immunizer.

Flávio Bolsonaro claims that the meeting with the BNDES president was to discuss internet access in the North and Northeast of Brazil, as Precisa CEO Francisco Maximiano is also a partner in telecom firms.

On recess since July 17, the inquiry will resume sessions on August 3.