Brazil Coup Architect Eduardo Cunha Sentenced to 15 Years for Corruption

The man who led a campaign to paint Dilma Rousseff as a corrupt politician has drowned in his own fraud scandals.

A Brazilian judge sentenced Eduardo Cunha, the former speaker of the lower house and mastermind behind the parliamentary coup against former President Dilma Rousseff, to 15 years in jail Thursday for corruption charges.

OPINION: Democracy Is Dead in Brazil

The sentence is the result of a criminal suit investigating Cunha for fraud related to millions of dollars in kickbacks he received for the 2011 purchase of an oil field in the West African country of Benin by the state-run oil company, Petrobras, which has been at the center of a major anti-corruption probe in the South American country known as Operation Car Wash.  

Federal Judge Sergio Moro handed down the sentence over charges of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion. The former head of the lower house has been held in pre-trial detention since last October. 

"The responsibility of a federal parliamentarian is enormous, and therefore so is his guilt when he commits crimes," said Moro. "There is no bigger crime than that of trying to use one's parliamentary mandate and the sacred trust the people place in it to obtain personal gain."

https://images.openmultimedia.biz/640x480/clips/imagen-2016-12-01-200558010140-621397.png 

According to Moro, Cunha received US$1.5 million in bribes for the Benin oil field contract, which, according to an internal Petrobras investigation reported by local media, resulted in US$77.5 million in losses for the state-run oil company after no oil was found at the site. 

While Cunha's defense team has said that they will appeal the decision, Moro confirmed that the politician will remain behind bars while the appeals process moves forward. 

IN DEPTH: The Coup That Ousted Brazilian Democracy

Despite himself facing multi-million dollar bribery and fraud charges, Cunha was a key architect in painting the impeachment process against Dilma Rousseff as a campaign to root out government corruption.

A member of unelected President Michel Temer’s PMDB party, Cunha is accused of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion linked to raking in at least US$5 million in illicit kickbacks between 2006 and 2012 and hiding the wealth in Swiss bank accounts.

Cunha was removed from his position as speaker of the lower house last September after being suspended in May 2016 — just weeks after the lower house pushed through the impeachment bid against Rousseff — to face an impeachment process over accusations that he intimidated lawmakers and hampered investigations. The Congress voted overwhelmingly by 450 to 10 to remove the unpopular politician.

The overwhelming decision to remove Cunha also stripped him of the parliamentary immunity he long enjoyed, opening him up to the corruption charges. Authorities arrested him at his apartment in Brasilia last October over accusations he hid laundered money in secret Swiss bank account while in office.

Despite the power he has wielded over Brazilian politics, polling over the past year has repeatedly unmasked Cunha as one of the most unpopular politicians in the country, including among his own party.

Several other top Temer allies have also been targeted in the Operation Car Wash investigations that have led to the arrests of dozens of politicans and economic elites over bribery schemes and corruption linked to Petrobras.

https://images.openmultimedia.biz/640x480/clips/imagen-2016-06-14-195234690565-557178.png

  • Published in World

'Coup Not Over': Lula, Rousseff Lead 1000s in Brazil Rally

The former presidents attended the inauguration of a popular water diversion project.

Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and ousted President Dilma Rousseff attended the San Francisco River Transposition, organized Sunday by leaders of social movements, artists and intellectuals in the Brazilian city of Monteiro.

RELATED: Make Brazil Great Again: Top Leftists Want Lula as President

"The coup is not over yet. It is underway with systematic lies like the one lived here in Monteiro, where someone, who never raised a finger to the diversion of these waters, dares to take credit for it now," Rousseff said, referring to the administration of Michel Temer.

The rerouting of the river São Francisco to supply water to the population of Monteiro in the state of Paraíba, as well as other cities in the area, is an accomplishment of the previous governments of Lula and Rousseff.

"I am very proud to see the water come here, I fought a lot for this together with Lula," the former president said.

https://images.openmultimedia.biz/640x480/clips/imagen-2016-10-18-153450880114-603024.png

A large gathering received the leaders of the Workers Party, or PT, in an event organized by social movements, who had prevented Temer from inaugurating the beginning of work on the water delivery days earlier.

"They always knew that the democracy of our government benefited the Brazilian people, they know (the right-wing) that during four elections we won and they lost, because they never got to present projects for the development of the country," Rousseff added.

RELATED: Brazil's Temer Could Face Impeachment as Key Witness Testifies in Fraud Case

During his speech, Lula thanked those present.

"Leaving where I left and getting where I am, was only with the hand of God and the Brazilian people," he said.

"I'm not a professional, I'm not a lawyer, I did not go to college, but ... I know what it's like to have a big belly full of bad things from drinking dirty water, I have honor, and I am proud to be able to contribute to the fact that this town has water today."

  • Published in World

Lula Responds to Corruption Allegations

"If my adversaries want to bring me down, they will have to fight me with votes," said the former Brazilian President.

Former Brazilian Presidnet Lula da Silva Thursday forcefully denounced corruption charges against himself and his wife and in a snide reference to the unelected government that had overthrown his successor, he said that "it has been shown that bureaucracy is more powerful than the president of the country."

RELATED: Privatizing the Commons: Brazil to Auction off Infrastructure

Popularly known simply as "Lula" said at a Thursday afternoon press conference that his Worker' Party "government was the most inclusive Brazil has ever seen," and invested heavily in education, and had made every effort to rid the country of longstanding corruption. 

The implication couldn´t be clearer. Rousseff is a woman of color, and she'd been replaced by an unelected administration of white-men, nearly half of whom are under investigation for corruption, public malfeasance, bribe-taking and influence peddling while in office. Rousseff, on the other hand, was impeached for "cooking the books" to make Brazil's financial situation appear better than it was in the runup to her reelection campaign. 

Making refference to Dilma Rousseff's senate impeachement, Lula said that "it has been shown that bureaucracy is more powerful than the President of the country," calling the whole process a "spectale." He also hinted that he will indeed run in the next presidential election. 

"If my adversaries want to bring me down, they will have to fight me with votes."

Lula and his wife, Marisa Leticia Lula da Silva, are formally accused of corruption, fraud and money laundering. Leo Pinheiro, former president of the construction company OAS, and Paulo Gordilho, an engineer at the construction company, are also accused of corruption.

According to allegations from federal police, Lula was the mastermind of the corruption scheme at the state-managed oil company, Petrobras, and directly benefited in the form of a gifted apartment in Guaruja and a farm in Atibaia, both in the state of Sao Paulo.

Supporters argue the actions against Lula are politically motivated and an attempt to prevent him from running as president in the next election in 2018.

Lula  remains a popular figure, and some believe he is the odds-on-favorite to win the next presidential poll. 

  • Published in World
Subscribe to this RSS feed

Havana