Close Bolsonaro aide to become Brazil Justice Minister -source

By Lisandra Paraguassu

By Lisandra Paraguassu

BRASILIA, April 26 (Reuters) - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is expected to name his presidential secretary to replace former Justice Minister Sergio Moro, who accused Bolsonaro of wrongdoing in his resignation on Friday, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The current head of the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Abin), meanwhile, will be chosen as the new federal police chief, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The appointments will place both jobs in the hands of two former police officers with close personal connections to Bolsonaro and his sons.

Moro, a former judge who is popular for jailing corrupt politicians and businessmen, said he was quitting the government because Bolsonaro had fired the chief of the federal police for personal and political reasons.

Bolsonaro called the accusations "baseless," while saying it was his right to pick the police chief. Bolsonaro denied interfering in police investigations involving members of his family or asking for federal police intelligence files.

Secretary of the Presidency Jorge Oliveira will take over as justice minister, with the nominations likely to be announced on Sunday, the source said.

As secretary, Oliveira has overseen the drafting of Bolsonaro's decrees and legislative proposals, as well as other administrative tasks.

Oliveira's father was Bolsonaro's aide for more than 20 years in Congress. Before Bolsonaro won election, Oliveira worked as chief of staff to Bolsonaro's son Eduardo.

Intelligence chief Alexandre Ramagem, who is tipped to be the new federal police chief, is also close friends with Bolsonaro's sons.

Bolsonaro took to Facebook to defend Ramagem, whose nomination Brazilian press have reported since Friday, although he has yet to confirm his selection.

"So what? I knew Ramagem before I knew my children. Should he be vetoed for that reason? Whose friend should I pick?" the president said in a post.

Ramagem took charge of Bolsonaro's personal security after Bolsonaro was stabbed on the campaign trail in 2018 and he became intelligence chief last July.

Bolsonaro's office declined to immediately comment. Calls to Oliveira went unanswered. The intelligence service Abin did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Ramagem.

The appointments are unlikely to fill the hole in the government left by Moro, whose exit is expected to alienate voters who backed Bolsonaro based on the president's anti-corruption message.

Moro's exit weakens Bolsonaro as Brazil is struggling to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. Bolsonaro's popularity has plummeted as he has downplayed a pandemic that had killed more than 4,000 people in Brazil as of Saturday. (Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Jake Spring; Editing by Will Dunham)