By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s Supreme Court has approved a request by the country’s Prosecutor General, Rodrigo Janot, and has suspended Chamber of Deputies Speaker, Eduardo Cunha from his duties as legislator. Cunha is said to have received the order early on Thursday morning at his residence in Brasilia.
Eduardo Cunha is accused of receiving bribes in the mega-corruption scandal known as Operação Lava Jato (Operation Carwash). The congressman has been named by several key government-turned witnesses as having received almost US$5 million in bribes for Petrobras contracts. According to local media, Janot argued that Cunha was hindering the money-laundering investigation.
Janot had asked the Supreme Court to suspend Cunha from his legislative duties back in December, citing that the Congressional representative was using his post to ‘destroy proof, pressure witnesses, intimidate victims and obstruct the investigations at any cost’. In December the Chamber’s Ethics Commission started an investigation into allegations against Cunha.
Last year Swiss authorities revealed that Cunha and family members had secret bank accounts in the European country, which he did not disclose to Brazilian authorities. According to the Prosecutor General there were strong indications that the money in those accounts came from kickback from facilitating contracts with Petrobras in his home state of Rio de Janeiro and abroad.
With the suspension of Eduardo Cunha from Brazil’s Lower House, Representative Waldir Maranhão, an ally of Cunha and vice-president of the Chamber, will take over as speaker.
In the past year, Cunha has been one of President Dilma Rousseff’s most fierce opponents and as Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies accepted the impeachment request against the President that was approved by the Lower House in late April.