By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazilian federal prosecutors investigating the Lava Jato (Carwash) mega-corruption scandal have asked a federal court to revoke suspended Chamber Speaker Eduardo Cunha’s political rights for ten years, in addition to demanding the return of approximately R$20 million in assets he has abroad but did not declare to Brazil’s Revenue Service.
According to prosecutors Cunha was the beneficiary of at least R$1.5 million obtained in bribes related to a Petrobras exploration contract in the oil field in Benin, Africa, in 2011. Prosecutors also request that Cunha’s wife, Claudia, return R$4.4 million deposited in an account in her name, and also said to be money received illicitly.
Although Cunha has justified the volume of assets abroad, stating that they are in fact trusts and not bank accounts, prosecutors say that the Congressman was aware of the illicit activity. “Such was the intention of the Congressman Eduardo Cunha to conceal the ownership of accounts held in Switzerland, that he requested all correspondence from the financial institution to be forwarded to an address in the United States, claiming that the postal service in his country of origin was unreliable,” stated the request to the courts by prosecutors.
Through his Twitter account, Cunha criticized the request made by prosecutors stating that “the eagerness to generate facts on the eve of the decision by the (Chamber’s) Board of Ethics, has led them (prosecutors) to propose a civil action against administrative impropriety actions.” According to Cunha this sort of action may only be proposed to those who worked at Petrobras, which he did not.
The Chamber’s Ethics Board is expected to vote this week on whether or not to recommend the removal of Cunha from the legislative body.
Correction: The article has been corrected since it was originally published on June 14th to read R$20 million instead of R$20 billion.