By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The Ethics Committee at Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies approved on Tuesday eleven votes to nine to remove suspended Speaker of the House, Eduardo Cunha from office for lying about having a foreign bank account. Through a press release, Cunha reiterated that he is innocent of the charges and that the process was conducted in a partial manner.
“We are facing the biggest scandal that this council has ever analyzed. This is not just an omission, a lie, but a plot to disguise tax evasion, tax fraud,” said the rapporteur of the process, Congressman Marcos Rogerio.
Now the case against Cunha needs to be examined in the Chamber plenary. For Cunha’s mandate to be revoked, at least 257 of the 513 representatives need to approve it.
Through a press release, Cunha said, “The entire process was conducted with bias,” adding that he would appeal the decision and has “absolute confidence, that the decision will not be taken forward”.
Cunha has denied he is the owner of a foreign bank account, but has admitted he is the beneficiary of a trust fund, set up in Switzerland, which he himself created. Cunha was also dealt another blow on Tuesday when a federal court in Curitiba determined the freezing of Cunha’s assets as well as his wife’s, Claudia.
The decision came a day after, Brazilian federal prosecutors investigating the Lava Jato (Carwash) mega-corruption scandal 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.