By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The new interim government in Brazil was shaken early Monday morning with the release of a recording where Planning Minister, Romero Jucá, allegedly tells a colleague that impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff are necessary so as to limit investigations on the Lava Jato (Carwash) corruption scheme.
In the recording released by national daily Folha de S. Paulo, Jucá tells former senator and ex-president of Transpetro, the country’s largest oil transportation company, Sergio Machado, that a new government and new ‘political pact’ is needed to ‘halt the bleeding’.
According to the daily, the political pact would be created to halt Lava Jato investigations across the political spectrum, including accusations against politicians and executives from state-run companies.
Machado is also being investigated in the Lava Jato scandal and is said to be cooperating with authorities. Local media has reported that it was Machado who leaked the conversation to the press.
Hours after the story made headline news, Jucá gave a press conference stating that the incriminating phrases were taken out of context and that the conversation was about the country’s ailing economy not about the mega-corruption scandal that has rocked Brazil’s political scene during the past year. He insisted with reporters that he had done nothing to hinder the investigations into the corruption scheme at oil giant Petrobras.
By the end of the day Jucá announced he was requesting a leave of absence and going back to his Senate seat until prosecutors investigated the allegations. There are reports, however, that he will be dismissed from his cabinet position permanently by interim President Michel Temer.
Temer, released a note on Monday afternoon stating that Jucá would be a great asset to his administration in the Senate. “I count on Jucá to continue during this period to aid, with his immense political capacity, the federal government in Congress,” said the note by the President.
Jucá has been one of the main supporters of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff and took over as head of the PMDB party when Michel Temer stepped down last April.