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Eduardo Cunha, the suspended speaker of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies and one of the main forces behind the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff could soon be stripped of his legislative seat.
The lower house’s ethics committee in a tight 11-9 vote on Tuesday backed a motion for Cunha to lose his legislative post over purportedly lying about undeclared Swiss bank accounts.
According to the Associated Press, opponents of one of Brazil’s most powerful politicians elicited “raucous cheers” after Rep. Tia Eron cast the key swing vote.
"We are facing the biggest scandal this body has ever ruled on," said Rep. Marcos Rogerio, who authored the report recommending that Cunha lose his seat to the Associated Press.
Now it is up to the Chamber of Deputies who, with a simple majority of at least 257 members, will decide Cunha’s future in congress. This is the same legislative house that Cunha sat in last April when parliamentarians overwhelmingly voted to impeach Rousseff on allegations of violating fiscal laws by falsifying accounts of government spending.
The Guardian reported that the beleaguered Rousseff was under fire over a sharp economic downturn as well as the “Lava Jato” corruption investigation that implicated members of Brazil’s political and business elite.
Reuters mentioned that the second-in-line to acting President Michel Temer is the only sitting lawmaker to face trial as part of the “Lava Jato” probe after having been indicted for receiving some $5 million in bribes from firms seeking to do business with state-run oil giant Petrobras.
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If ousted he would lose his congressional immunity and face arrest. Cunha has threatened to strike a plea deal and potentially implicate other members of the Temer regime.
Cunha has proclaimed innocence against all the accusations against him as well as those of his spouse, Claudia Cruz. The ethics committee believes Cruz also lied about holding bank accounts in Switzerland with Cunha, and is under indictment for accepting bribes related to a Petrobras purchase of an oil field in Brazil’s Benin state.
By Erwin Cifuentes for Oilprice.com
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Erwin Cifuentes is a Contributing Editor for Southern Pulse Info where he focuses on politics, economics and security issues in Latin America and the Caribbean.…