Speaker Eduardo Cunha, who is commonly known as the architect of suspended President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment, has faced votes by Brazil’s congressional ethics committee to strip him from his seat on Tuesday for allegedly lying about undeclared Swiss bank accounts.
Cunha insisted that he was no guilty and vowed to appeal the decision to another congressional committee. However, to remove the latter from his office, an affirmed decision needs to be issued by the majority of the lower house of Congress.
Last month, the Supreme Court suspended him in for using his position to obstruct the ethics committee hearings for months on end, and if he now loses his seat, he will also lose the partial immunity enjoyed by elected politicians. He could then be arrested and prosecuted by lower courts in the several corruption cases brought against him.
If arrested, Cunha threatened that he shall take other politicians down with him, drawing threat on interim President Michel Temer that a Cunha plea bargain could implicate more members of his government and ruling PMDB party in corruption.
The ethics committee voted to eject him from Congress for lying about holding bank accounts in Switzerland with his wife; however he denied having these accounts, saying they were trust funds that he did not control, even though Swiss prosecutors had linked him to the bank accounts.
However, his case was weakened when credit cards data of showed his wife and daughter had spent tens of thousands of dollars in purchases of clothing in luxury shops from Milan to Paris and New York.
On Monday, the prosecutors in the Petrobras investigation filed a civil lawsuit against Cunha and his wife seeking the return of $5.7 million in alleged graft money. They also called for Cunha to be barred from politics for 10 years.