Brazil priest under investigation over accusations pilgrim donations were misused
26 Aug 2020

A popular priest is being investigated by prosecutors over accusations he diverted donations at Brazil’s third largest pilgrimage site into real estate investments, including a ranch and a luxury beach house, authorities said.

The Roman Catholic Church suspended Father Robson Oliveira on Sunday, pending the investigation by prosecutors looking into money laundering, fraud, tax evasion and organized crime charges involving up to 1.7 billion reais ($300 million) over a decade.

Oliveira has around 3.9 million followers on Facebook and had been running the Basilica of the Eternal Father in Trindade, a colonial town just outside the city of Goiania in the central state of Goias.

More than a million people flock to the shrine each year and take part in celebrations that feature a procession of ox carts.

Prosecutors said they suspect Oliveira, aged 46, was skimming off part of the 20 million reais ($3.6 million) in donations the basilica receives on average each month and investing the proceeds through front-men associates. They said they had contacted Vatican officials about the case.

By Anthony Boadle, Reuters, 24 August 2020

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