By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Arrested last month in Operação Lava Jato (Carwash), former Speaker of the House, Eduardo Cunha, included in his defense witness list current Brazil President Michel Temer and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, as well as other former high-ranking government officials.
The former Speaker is accused of receiving kickbacks in Benin, Africa from oil exploration contracts set with Petrobras and of having lied to a Congressional committee when he stated that neither he nor any family members held Swiss bank accounts.
According to the document filed by Cunha’s lawyers this week, 22 witnesses were included in the legal process including former Tourism minister, Henrique Alves, businessman José Carlos Bumlai, former director of Petrobras, Nestor Cervero, and former senator Amaral Delcídio.
Cunha’s defense attorneys reject all of the complaints lodged against the former lawmaker saying there is no concrete proof that Cunha committed illegal acts. According to prosecutors, Cunha received R$5 million in bribes related to contracts in Benin, Africa and deposited the amount in a Swiss bank account.
An arrest warrant was issued in October and the former Speaker was consequently arrested and sent to a holding sell in Curitiba because prosecutors feared that after his impeachment as a Congressional representative, Cunha would flee the country, since he has dual nationality (Brazilian and Italian).
“[There is] risk to the process proceedings, public order, as well as a concrete possibility of flight due to the availability of hidden funds abroad, in addition to dual nationality,” said prosecutors justifying the October 19th arrest.