BRASILIA – The veteran politician who as speaker of Brazil’s lower house opened the door to the impeachment and ouster of elected President Dilma Rousseff was arrested on Wednesday on corruption charges, authorities told EFE.
Just weeks after his expulsion from Congress, Eduardo Cunha was taken into custody at his Brasilia residence on the order of federal Judge Sergio Moro, who heads the investigation into a $2 billion corruption scandal centered on state oil company Petrobras.
Cunha is a member of the PMDB, the same party as Michel Temer, who became president on Aug. 31 after the Senate voted to remove Rousseff from office.
As speaker of the lower house, Cunha accepted for consideration a proposal to impeach Rousseff over alleged budget irregularities, a decision he boasted of when he resigned the speakership in July.
“I am proud of having helped free Brazil from one of the most corrupt governments it has had,” he said then.
Cunha – like more than half his colleagues in Congress – was himself under investigation at the time he authorized the move to impeach Rousseff, who has never been accused of any personal financial improprieties.
The still-influential politician is charged with accepting $5 million in bribes from companies implicated in the Petrobras case.
Authorities opened three separate probes of Cunha’s conduct after the Swiss government confirmed that he deposited millions of dollars in bank accounts in the European nation.
Police said they planned to fly Cunha from Brasilia to the southern city of Curitiba, the base of the Petrobras investigation.