Brazil labor minister suspended amid corruption probe

Brazil's labor minister was suspended Thursday by a Supreme Court justice as part of an investigation into fraud.

Helton Yomura cannot enter the Labor Ministry's offices or have contact with its staff, said Joana Dantas, a ministry press officer.

Yomura's removal is another blow to President Michel Temer's administration, which has already seen several ministers resign amid scandal. Temer himself has faced allegations of corruption twice, but Congress voted both times to spare him a trial while he remains in office. He denies wrongdoing.

Late Thursday, Temer appointed his close ally Eliseu Padilha to serve as interim labor minister, according to the official government gazette. Padilha will continue serve as chief of staff.

In Thursday's operation, federal prosecutors allege that civil servants and lawmakers manipulated the registration procedure for unions. In all, police were executing 10 search warrants and three arrest warrants but would not say who they were for.

Yomura denied any wrongdoing.

"Minister Helton Yomura, even without knowing what acts he is accused of, vehemently denies any accusation of a crime or irregularity," his defense team said in a statement.

Police also searched the offices of federal deputy Nelson Marquezelli.

Marquezelli told Globo TV that he had "nothing to fear."

"I will await their report," he said.