By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The week ahead in Brazil’s political arena promises to be turbulent with the Chamber of Deputies, Ethics Commission deciding on whether or not to vote for the expulsion of Chamber President, Eduardo Cunha. After seven months of postponements and delays the Chamber’s Ethics Committee is expected to vote between Tuesday and Wednesday on whether or not to recommend the removal of Cunha from the legislative body.
Cunha and family members are accused of possessing Swiss bank accounts that were never reported to Brazil’s federal revenue service or Congress and which, according to prosecutors, may be linked to the largest corruption scandal in Brazil’s history, the Lava Jato.
Cunha has denied any wrongdoing relying on a technicality of being the beneficiary of a trust that he set up in Switzerland, instead of a bank account. The legislator has been suspended from his Congressional duties until the voting is completed due to his interference in the process.
According to local media the vote is expected to be close, with a good probability of Cunha making his way back to the presidency of the Lower House. If the Chamber’s Ethics Committee agrees with the process, the vote will go to the plenary, where at least 257 of the 513 representatives must vote ‘yes’ for Cunha to be expelled.
Still Cunha’s troubles go beyond legislative penalties. In March, Brazil’s Supreme Court started criminal proceedings against Cunha for allegedly receiving US$5 million in bribes for contracts from Petrobras in the Lava Jato scandal. Cunha’s name first appeared in the investigations last year when Júlio Camargo, an executive of oil and gas sector company Toyo Setal, entered a plea agreement with prosecutors in exchange for leniency.