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article imageKey Brazil impeachment figure accused of hiding $16 mn

By AFP     Oct 16, 2015 in World

A key figure in the push to impeach Brazil's president hid nearly $16 million in illegal funds, prosecutors said Friday in a new twist to the political battle gripping Latin America's biggest country.

Eduardo Cunha, the speaker of the lower house of Congress, has been at the center of attention as he prepares to rule on whether petitions to impeach President Dilma Rousseff should go ahead.

However, he is also fighting for his own political life after being accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes during a massive corruption scheme in which leading Brazilian executives bribed politicians and embezzled from state oil company Petrobras.

Prosecutors fleshed out those allegations Friday, saying Cunha enriched himself more than had been previously reported and hid money in Swiss bank accounts.

"There is sufficient proof that the foreign bank accounts were not declared and that at least in relation to Eduardo Cunha the money was the result of crimes," the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

"His estimated holdings... were approximately $16 million."

Prosecutors specified that Cunha has declared only about half a million dollars from that amount. The funds have all been frozen.

Cunha faces the threat of being stripped of his speaker's post and with that the powers to launch impeachment proceedings. His possible ouster throws into doubt a long-running drive to force Rousseff from office.

Rousseff, who began her second term less than a year ago, is deeply unpopular and has been found by a court to have fiddled government accounts to mask budget shortfalls.

More about Brazil, Politics, Impeachment, Corruption, Speaker
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