Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil's ex-Speaker faces losing seat over Swiss bank accounts

Brazilian suspended House Speaker Eduardo Cunha reacts during a news conference at the National Congress in Brasilia, Brazil July 7, 2016 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Eduardo Cunha was suspended in May and resigned as Speaker in July

Brazil's lower house is considering whether to expel the congressman seen as being behind the impeachment of former president Dilma Rousseff.

Ex-Speaker Eduardo Cunha faces losing his seat amid accusations he lied about undeclared Swiss bank accounts.

Mr Cunha denies wrongdoing and has said Ms Rousseff's supporters are seeking revenge.

He has also threatened to reveal compromising information about other politicians.

"This criminal government has been removed thanks to me," he said during the session, accusing Ms Rousseff's Workers' Party of seeking his removal to bolster her claim that the impeachment process against her had been a "coup".

In an impeachment vote last month, Ms Rousseff was removed from for moving funds between government budgets, which is illegal under Brazilian law.

Swiss information

Mr Cunha is also being investigated by the Supreme Court for allegedly taking millions of dollars in bribes to secure contracts with state oil giant, Petrobras.

Petrobras is at the centre of a massive kickbacks scandal which cost the company $2bn (£1.5bn) and has led to the arrest of dozens of lawmakers and top businessmen.

At least three businessmen have said under interrogation that they paid bribes to Mr Cunha, which they deposited in his overseas accounts. If he is voted out of his seat he will lose the partial immunity from prosecution that comes with being an elected representative.

In March 2015 Mr Cunha stated that he did not have "any type of account anywhere that is not declared on my income tax".

But authorities in Switzerland later gave information to a corruption inquiry in Brazil stating that Mr Cunha and his wife, Claudia Cruz, were beneficiaries of secret accounts worth about $5m (£3.7m). Mr Cunha said he did not control the Swiss accounts.

Mr Cunha lost a last-minute bid to postpone Monday's vote. His colleagues in the lower house of Brazilian politics will vote on his position at 19:00 local time (22:00 GMT).


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