Brazil’s former house speaker, Eduardo Cunha ousted over Swiss bank accounts

September 13, 2016 9:00 am

’s former house speaker, (center), is seen during a Chamber of Deputies session in Brasilia on September 12, 2016. ©AFP

Brazil’s lower house of Congress has voted to unseat its ex-speaker Eduardo Cunha, the main driver behind the impeachment process against former president Dilma Rousseff.
On Tuesday, lawmakers at the Chamber of Deputies overwhelmingly decided to remove Cunha from his legislative seat in a 450-10 vote for having lied about his secret banking accounts in Switzerland. Nine legislators also abstained.
Cunha was ousted “for conduct incompatible with lawmakers’ duties,” according to a statement read out after the vote.
The former speaker, who had been in his fourth term as a lawmaker, also stands accused of receiving millions of dollars in bribes in connection with a corruption scandal at state oil company Petrobras, but his banking accounts were the only issue on the lower house’s agenda.
In July, he was forced to resign as speaker after his secret accounts were revealed, but he refused to give up on his congressional seat.
Swiss prosecutors said he held secret bank accounts at Julius Baer bank, with a value in December at $2.5 million.
Brazilian investigators also said he has had undeclared accounts in the United States since 1990 totaling more than $20 million. Cunha, however, denies any wrongdoing.
With the loss of his seat, Cunha now loses his partial immunity from being prosecuted.
During the presentation of his defense in the Chamber of Deputies, the former speaker described his ouster as a “political process because I kicked off the impeachment proceedings.”
“The current administration [of President Michel Temer] adopted the agenda of removing me from office,” he added.

Members of Brazil’s lower house of Congress celebrate the ouster of former speaker Eduardo Cunha in Brasilia on September 12, 2016. ©Reuters

Cunha further said that he planned to publish a book telling about the behind-the-scenes dealings that led to the impeachment of Rousseff.
“This is all because I opened the impeachment proceedings,” Cunha said. “The (governing) Worker’s Party wants a trophy to say this was a coup. This criminal of a government of yours is now gone thanks to me.”
Cunha, a close ally of Temer, had formerly threatened to bring down others by revealing cases of corruption that could endanger members of Temer’s government.
Temer, who was Rousseff’s vice president, replaced her after the upper chamber of parliament voted to suspend her and began an impeachment trial against her in May.
When the Senate permanently removed Rousseff from office late last month, Temer took over as president. He will remain in office for what it would have been the rest of Rousseff’s second term through 2018.
Rousseff was impeached for allegedly violating fiscal regulations by tampering the 2014 federal budget. The former president was accused of breaking fiscal rules in her management of the 2014 federal budget
She has strongly rejected the allegations, calling the impeachment a coup d’état and denouncing Temer as a “usurper.”
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