31 March 2017
Eduardo Cunha was the Speaker of the lower house of Congress. Anti-corruption judge Sergio Moro sentenced him to 15 years and four months in prison. He was found guilty of corruption, money laundering and tax evasion. He was also involved in the Petrobras scandal code-named ‘Operation car wash’. He claimed that Rousseff was using the Petrobras investigation as a tool of “political persecution” against him. He was one of the most powerful politicians before his ouster in October, last year.
Cunha spearheaded last year’s impeachment of leftist president Dilma Rousseff.
20 October 2016
Judge Sergio Moro issued on Wednesday an order to arrest former Congressman Eduardo Cunha on corruption charges. detention order comes amidst fear that Cunha might flee because of his access to hidden resources abroad, as well as dual nationality. Cunha is Italian and Brazilian. Cunha could not be arrested because of his parliamentary immunity. After his expulsion from the chamber of deputies last month, he lost his parliamentary immunity. He is accused of having pocketed some $37m from bribes from state oil company Petrobras. Operation Car Wash is a nation-wide investigation into mammoth corruption at Petrobras.
Federal prosecutors released a statement quoting Moro, who said: “Until there is full traceability of money, there is a greater risk that he will flee, since the accused could use illegal funds to facilitate his escape and refuge abroad.”
Cunha played a crucial role in the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in August. Michel Temer who succeeded Rousseff, has distanced himself from Cunha. Michel Temer is of the same Brazilian Democratic Movement (PMDB) party as Cunha.
Cunha became popular as a radio host after converting to the Assembly of God, one of Brazil’s biggest evangelical churches.
Mr. Cunha’s wife, Cláudia Cruz, has also been charged with money laundering in connection with the Petrobras case. She is said to have used the money diverted from Petrobras to finance a lavish lifestyle that included international travel, luxury shopping sprees and pricey tennis lessons.
Opposition politicians predicted if Cunha made a plea bargain with prosecutors, the Michel Temer government could fall.
Rousseff’s presidential predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva faces three corruption charges and speculation is rife that he could also be placed in pre-trial detention. Current President Michel Temer, has been battling allegations that he intends to weaken the Petrobras probe to protect his political allies facing corruption charges.