Brazil MPs Ban Ex-Speaker From Politics

Brazil MPs Ban Ex-Speaker From PoliticsBrazil MPs Ban Ex-Speaker From Politics

The lower house of Congress in Brazil has voted to strip former speaker, Eduardo Cunha, of his seat and ban him from politics for eight years for lying about Swiss bank accounts.

Cunha had engineered former president Dilma Roussef's impeachment. The lower house voted 450-10 to expel Cunha who has been charged with corruption by the Supreme Court. He has lost his parliamentary prerogatives and faces possible arrest.

The issue voted on by the Chamber of Deputies on Monday night was whether Cunha lied about having secret bank accounts in Switzerland. An ethics committee report read out to the chamber said the existence of his accounts and assets abroad was fully proven, Deutsche Welle reported.

Cunha, who was in his fourth term as a lawmaker, claimed the Swiss accounts belonged to a trust. He denied the charges and asked his peers: "I did not lie. Where is the proof? Where are the account numbers?"

In the political furor surrounding the Petrobras scandal, he has threatened to take other politicians down with him. Cunha has warned he could tell all in a plea bargain that could compromise many in a discredited political establishment. Some 50 politicians are already under investigation for taking kickbacks in the Petrobras scandal.

He has been a key ally of new President Michel Temer, who had been Rousseff's vice president. But after the vote, he accused Temer's administration of joining in the effort to punish him for Rousseff's removal.

"This was a political process because I kicked off the impeachment proceedings. They wanted a trophy," he said at a news conference. "The current administration adopted the agenda of removing me from office."

Cunha said he planned to publish a book telling about the dealings that led to the impeachment of Rousseff.

Cunha has also been charged by the Supreme Court for allegedly taking a $5 million bribe on a drill ship contract for the state-run oil company Petrobras.

Cunha is the only sitting Brazilian lawmaker to face trial so far in the massive bribery investigation focused on Petrobras and other state-run enterprises where engineering companies siphoned off funds from overpriced contracts to pay bribes to executives and kickbacks to politicians in Rousseff's governing coalition.