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Brazil's Agriculture Minister, Blairo Maggi attends the ceremony of the mining reform, at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Adriano Machado


BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's Supreme Court justice on Friday opened a corruption investigation into the nation's agriculture minister, Blairo Maggi, who is accused of leading a graft scheme when he served as governor of Mato Grosso state from 2003 to 2010.

Justice Luiz Fux approved the investigation request made by Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot, who alleges that Maggi arranged for state lawmakers to be paid off to support his political agenda as governor.

Janot's allegations are based on plea-bargain testimony made by Silval Barbosa, who served as Maggi's vice governor from 2007 to 2010.

Among the accusations, Barbosa alleged that Maggi instructed his deputy to pay his campaign debts with public funds.

Maggi, a billionaire who made his fortune as Brazil's largest soy farmer, denied the accusations in a statement and said he had never taken part in any illicit activities.

(Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Additional reporting by Brad Brooks in Sao Paulo; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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