The Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, resigned this Wednesday (23) to President Jair Bolsonaro.
Salles is the subject of an investigation in the STF (Federal Supreme Court) by an operation of the Federal Police that looks into allegations of favoring businessmen from the timber sector by bending rules, in order to regularize cargoes seized abroad.
Joaquim Pereira Leite, secretary for the Amazon and Environmental Services, was appointed as the new minister. The changes were published in the Diário Oficial da União this afternoon. Leite is close to Salles, and during Bolsonaro's government, he also led the Department's Forest Ministry.
Salles leaves the Esplanada in the middle of an investigation by the Federal Police into a timber smuggling scheme and under criticism by environmentalists regarding the advance of deforestation in the Amazon.
The former minister is also the subject of an inquiry that investigates his alleged actions to hinder the investigation of the largest seizure of timber in Brazil, carried out during the Operação Handroanthus (Operation Handroanthus).
Since the beginning of the operation by the Federal Police, Salles has submerged. Most of the minister's official schedule was composed of internal dispatches or days without official commitments.
After the publication of his resignation in the Diário Oficial da União, Salles made a statement to the press. There was no opportunity for questions from the press.
"I understand that Brazil, throughout this year and next year, in terms of international insertion and also on the national agenda, needs to have a very strong union of interests, desires, and efforts. And for this to be done, in the smoothest possible manner, I have presented to the President my resignation request, which was granted," he said.
Salles stated that he understands that he carried out "in the best possible way" the job as minister for two and a half years. The now-former minister claimed to have sought out to put into practice, from day one, Bolsonaro's guidelines for the Ministry.
Translated by Cassy Dias