speaker of Brazil’s lower house of Congress Eduardo Cunha. Image courtesy of Senado Federal/Flickr.

Brazilian prosecutors charged lower congressional house speaker Eduardo Cunha with corruption on Thursday as part of an ongoing probe into state owned Petrobras.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Brazilian attorney general Rodrigo Janot has filed criminal charges with Brazil’s Supreme Court against Cunha and Brazilian senator Fernando Collor de Mello for allegedly taking bribes tied to Petrobras deals.

Cunha has not been indicted yet, Reuters said.

Cunha has insisted he will stay in his role as speaker despite pressure from fellow politicians to resign his post.

“I’m innocent and with this charge I feel relieved because now the matter goes to the judiciary. My conscience is clear and I’ll continue to carry out my job as Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies with the same candor and independence that always guided my actions,” Cunha wrote on his Facebook page.

Cunha is the first sitting politician to be charged in the widening corruption probe into Petrobras contracts, Reuters noted.

He quit the ruling coalition last month and has accused president Dilma Rousseff’s administration of framing him for participating in corruption at Petrobras.

Collor de Mello refused to comment on the matter but has previously denied any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors also arrested former Solange Almeida and added that are seeking $40 million in damages caused to Petrobras as well as the return of $40 million in bribe money, Reuters said.

The arrests came just days after the conviction of former Petrobras executive Nestor Cerveró, consultant Julio Camargo and lobbyist Fernando Soares for allegedly organizing bribes from Korea-based shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries in exchange for securing two drillship contracts.

In plea bargain testimony, Camargo claimed that Cunha asked him for a $5 million bribe tied to drillship deal.

Federal judge Sergio Moro reduced Camargo’s 14 year sentence to community service and a requirement that he report to police two times a month after he collaborated with prosecutors.

Cerveró was sentenced to 12 years and three months in prison for money laundering and corruption charges.

Soares was sentenced to about 16 years in jail after prosecutors accused him of moving bribe payments to Cunha’s Brazilian Democratic Movement Party.

No executives from Samsung were charged.


Leave a Reply