October 27, 2016

Brazil’s Eduardo Cunha faces loss of seat in Congress

Eduardo Cunha says he will appeal against the committee’s decision

Brazil’s suspended lower house Speaker Eduardo Cunha has been dealt a major blow after a committee voted in favour of stripping him of his seat.
Mr Cunha is widely regarded as the architect of the impeachment process of President Dilma Rousseff.
He has been accused of lying about undeclared Swiss bank accounts but strongly denies any wrongdoing.
A vote on Mr Cunha’s case now needs to be taken by the lower house of Congress.
Brazil’s congressional ethics committee narrowly voted on Tuesday to eject him from Congress for lying about holding bank accounts in Switzerland with his wife.
“We are facing the biggest scandal this body has ever ruled on,” said ethics council rapporteur Marcos Rogerio, who wrote the report recommending that Mr Cunha be stripped of his seat.
Mr Cunha has insisted he is innocent and vowed to appeal against the decision to another congressional committee.
Swiss authorities say Mr Cunha had secret accounts worth about $5m (£3.2m) which Brazilian prosecutors allege are linked to a corruption scheme at the state oil company, Petrobras.
Mr Cunha, a committed evangelical Christian who often quotes the Bible in his social media messages, has said that the accounts in Switzerland were trust funds that he did not control.
If Mr Cunha loses his seat he will also lose the partial immunity enjoyed by elected politicians and could face prosecution on corruption charges.
He was suspended last month, accused of trying to obstruct the corruption investigation against him and intimidating lawmakers.
Ms Rousseff and her supporters say it was her government’s decision not to give in to Mr Cunha’s demands, specifically over the ethics committee investigation, that triggered his subsequent move to begin impeachment proceedings.
Petrobras is at the centre of a massive kickbacks scandal which has led to the arrest of dozens of Brazilian lawmakers and top businessmen.

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