And finally…Brazilian mayor wanted for corruption ran town via WhatsApp

Lidiane Leite
Lidiane Leite

A mayor in Brazil is on the run after she was accused of siphoning off millions of pounds worth of funds from the local school system and running the town remotely through social messaging service WhatsApp.

According to prosecutors, Lidiane Leite, 25, lived a life of luxury in the capital of Maranhao in north-eastern Brazil, one of the country’s poorest states and her only contact with her own town of Bom Jardim, was through daily WhatsApp messages to her cabinet.

Ms Leite went on the run after her name was mentioned in a federal investigation on the misuse of state education funds which has caused the town’s already precarious education system to collapsed leaving teachers unpaid.

Operation Eden uncovered evidence that some $4m (£2.6m) in funds for Bom Jardim’s schools went missing.

An arrest warrant has been issued against her and her boyfriend, who served as her main adviser.

Ms Leite’s lawyer said she was not aware of any wrongdoing.

She was in her early 20s when Beto Rocha, her boyfriend, was banned from running for mayor in 2012 for alleged corruption.

Ms Leite stepped in and was elected.

She appointed Mr Rocha as her main adviser and went to live in the state capital, Sao Luis, 275km (170 miles) away.

“She was too young and and inexperienced when she took office,” said her lawyer, Carlos Barros. “She lacked confidence and delegated many tasks to Mr Rocha.”

Brazilian media say the couple ended their relationship earlier this year and Mr Rocha resigned shortly after.

An arrest warrant has been issued and a new mayor - Ms Leite’s former deputy - was sworn in promising to carry out a full investigation.

A state judge said he would seek an international arrest warrant if she does not hand herself in by Tuesday.