Brazil's top court halts probe of president's son

MAURICIO SAVARESE
FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2018 file photo, then presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro, left, and his son Flavio, acknowledge reporters at a polling station in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Brazil’s top court made public on Tuesday, July 16, 2019, that it has suspended an investigation into the finances of Bolsonaro’s son, saying the initial steps in the probe hadn’t been authorized by a judge. A Rio de Janeiro state court has been investigating 48 deposits made to Sen. Flávio Bolsonaro from his former driver Fabrício Queiroz in 2017. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo, File)

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil's top court said Tuesday it has suspended an investigation into the finances of President Jair Bolsonaro's son, saying the initial steps in the probe hadn't been authorized by a judge.

Rio de Janeiro prosecutors have been investigating 48 deposits made to Sen. Flávio Bolsonaro from his former driver Fabrício Queiroz in 2017.

But Supreme Court Chief Justice José Dias Toffoli ruled that the government's financial control agency should have gotten judicial authorization before handling data of the senator's finances to investigators.

The ruling is valid until Nov. 21, when a full court session is expected to examine the case.

Flávio Bolsonaro denies any wrongdoing.

The far-right politician has said the series of small payments he received from Queiroz came from the sale of real estate and that he did not hide the transaction from authorities.

A former Rio state lawmaker, Flávio Bolsonaro was elected senator last year in the same vote that brought his father to Brazil's presidency with a pro-gun and anti-corruption message.

Brazil's financial control agency reported late last year that 74 staffers and former staffers of Rio's state legislature had made suspicious banking transactions.

Queiroz, who worked for the Bolsonaros for many years, saw more than $300,000 come in and out of his bank account in only one year, the control body said.

Queiroz said earlier this year those funds come mostly from buying and selling cars.

He also paid $6,400 to Michelle Bolsonaro, who became first lady this year. Brazilian President Bolsonaro said that amount was part of a loan he had made to the driver.