RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Brazil’s Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardoso plans to resign, fed up with rising attacks from his Workers’ Party over a police probe into the activities of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, two Brazilian newspapers reported Sunday.
Cardoso will quit this week, Folha de S.Paulo said. Cardoso, who took office with Lula’s PT successor Dilma Rousseff at the beginning of her first term in 2011.
Leading members of Cardoso’s party, known by its Portuguese initials PT, have raised pressure on the minister in recent days after Lula was notified that Brazilian courts plan to subpoena his bank, telephone and financial records, Folha and the Estado de S.Paulo reported.
Lula, the PT’s historic leader, a five-time PT presidential candidate and two term president from 2003 to 2010, has come under investigation in the wake of a giant and widening corruption scandal at state-led oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA.
Lula has already faced police questioning over the financial dealings of his children and friends and now faces questioning of his alleged ownership of a beach-front penthouse triplex and country estate.
The penthouse and country home were allegedly renovated by construction companies involved in the price-fixing, bribery and political kickback scandal at Petrobras, as the oil company is known. Lula has said the properties don’t belong to him.
On Satuday, Lula lashed out at the subpoenas.
“If this is the price people must pay to prove their innocence, I’ll do it,” Lula said referring to the subpoenas. “The only thing I want is that afterward they give me a good conduct certificate, because I doubt there is anyone more honest than I am in the country.”
A justice ministry spokeswoman declined to comment. Aides to Rousseff could not be reached. Cardoso, a lawyer and law professor, is recovering from lymphatic cancer.
Cardoso is upset over PT allegations that he has failed to control a political witch hunt against Lula and other government allies.
Cardoso has said he has no authority to restrict investigations without evidence police violated a person’s rights, Estado reported.
A Cardoso resignation would come as pressure mounts on both Lula and Rousseff after last week’s arrest of Joao Santana, a political consultant who ran Rousseff’s two successful presidential campaigns and is the protegé of the man who ran Lula’s successful presidential bids.
Prosecutors allege Santana was paid with money siphoned from Petrobras by corrupt construction companies working with politician and Petrobras executives. (Reporting by Jeb Blount, additional reporting by Anthony Boadle in Brasilia; Editing by Michael Perry)