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Brazil prosecutors charge 2018 presidential candidate Alckmin with graft

Presidential candidate Alckmin attends televised debate in Sao Paulo

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil state prosecutors on Thursday charged Geraldo Alckmin, the former governor of Sao Paulo state and two-time presidential candidate, with corruption, money laundering and electoral crimes, in a new blow to the nation’s weakened centrist parties.

The fresh accusations come after the federal police accused Alckmin last week of allegedly receiving unregistered campaign funding. The state prosecutors’ charges against Alckmin, a veteran of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, still need to be reviewed by a judge.

A four-time governor of Brazil’s richest state, Alckmin’s last term ended in 2018, when he ran for president, failing to reach a second-round runoff, which was won by far-right populist President Jair Bolsonaro.

Alckmin also ran for the presidency in 2006, when he lost in the second round to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the leftist Workers Party.

Representatives for Alckmin did not respond to a request for comment. Last week, the former governor told CNN Brasil there were no irregularities in his campaigns, saying he had “an absolutely calm conscience.”

Since Bolsonaro’s 2018 election victory, which shifted Brazilian politics sharply to the right, traditional centrist parties have struggled to make a mark. Their reputations have also suffered from years of graft scandals revealed by the corruption-busting Operation Car Wash, which jailed scores of political powerbrokers and business leaders.

(Reporting by Eduardo Simoes; Writing by Gabriela Mello; Editing by Brad Haynes and Jonathan Oatis)

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