BRASILIA, Oct 8 (Reuters) - A group of Brazilian congressmen will seek the removal of lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha on ethical grounds after prosecutors confirmed the existence of undeclared bank accounts in his name in Switzerland, the leader of the leftist PSOL party said.
Cunha, who has been charged with corruption for allegedly receiving a $5 million bribe in the Petrobras kickback scandal, denied holding Swiss bank accounts before a congressional inquiry into the massive graft scheme at the state-run oil company.
But Brazil’s Prosecutor General said in a Thursday statement to one of the lawmakers, Chico Alencar of the PSOL, that Swiss authorities had confirmed the existence of the accounts and froze their assets on the suspicion of money laundering.
Alencar and other lawmakers plan to ask the lower house’s ethics council to look into the case next week and rule on the removal of the speaker for lying about the accounts.
“All the parties that have kept silent over this will now have to take a position in the Ethics Committee,” Alencar told reporters, waving a document he had been sent by the Prosecutor General.
The prosecutor general’s office confirmed the statement had been sent to Alencar.
Third in the line of presidential succession, Cunha is a key figure in Brazil’s political crisis because he can decide whether to open impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff, something her opponents are seeking.
The Folha de S.Paulo newspaper reported on Thursday that Cunha’s accounts at Julius Baer held $2.4 million in investment funds. Folha did not cite its sources for the information that it said the bank provided to Swiss authorities.
Cunha has repeatedly denied receiving bribe money and has refused to answer questions about the Swiss accounts. (Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Christian Plumb)