Bolsonaro Finds Anticorruption Vow Threatened by Cases Close to Home

Bolsonaro Finds Anticorruption Vow Threatened by Cases Close to Home

That was the message he delivered to the world’s business and political leaders in Davos this week.

“We’re here to show that Brazil has changed,” he told journalists after arriving. “Brazil is taking steps so the world re-establishes its confidence in us, so that businesses flourish inside Brazil and the world, without ideological tendencies, so that we can be a safe country for investments.”

When asked in Davos about the case involving his son, Mr. Bolsonaro told Bloomberg, “If by chance he erred and it were proven, I regret it as a father, but he’ll have to pay the price for those actions we can’t accept.”

While Brazilian markets have rallied since Mr. Bolsonaro’s electoral victory, the government is trying to attract more foreign investment. An overhaul of the country’s social security program, including raising the retirement age, is seen as an important aspect of his plan to invigorate the economy.

But the corruption allegations, while tame in comparison to the billion-dollar bribery scandal that rocked prior administrations, have weakened the government’s hand as it prepares to push for unpopular measures in Congress, such as raising the retirement age.

“If the economic agenda is successful, these wounds from the corruption issue would be less relevant,” said Gil Castello Branco, the director of a political corruption watchdog, Contas Abertas. “But Flávio is putting himself and the government in a difficult position.”

He and other analysts think the new administration will make some inroads fighting corruption, if only because of the appointment as justice minister of Sergio Moro, the judge who oversaw the large-scale bribery investigation that brought down several powerful figures.

“We are going to see advances in areas like money laundering, which is tied to organized crime and political corruption,” said Mr. Galdino, of Transparência Brasil. But the case involving Flávio Bolsonaro threatens to hamstring the administration, he said.

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