SHARE
Mayor Lidiane Leite

A mayor in Brazil is on the run after she was accused of siphoning off funds from the school system and running the town remotely through WhatsApp.

Lidiane Leite, 25, lived a life of luxury in the capital of Maranhao state, prosecutors said. They say her only contact with her town, Bom Jardim, was through daily WhatsApp messages to her cabinet.

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, 275 km 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. Ms. Leite went on the run after her name was mentioned in a federal investigation on the misuse of state education funds.

An arrest warrant was issued on Thursday and a new mayor – Ms. Leite’s former deputy – was sworn in on Saturday promising to carry out a full investigation. (BBC)