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Brazil ethics panel questions ex-speaker on bank accounts

Brazil's former Lower House President Eduardo Cunha, left, talks with his lawyer Marcelo Nobre as he testifies before the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry in connection with the so-called Car Wash probe, at Congress in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Investigators uncovered a multi-billion dollar kickback scheme centered on the state oil company Petrobras and dozens of the country's elites have been ensnared, from top lawmakers to businessmen. The Supreme Federal Tribunal recently removed Cunha from office. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
May 19, 2016 - 11:50 AM

SAO PAULO - The ethics committee of Brazil's lower house began hearings Thursday that could lead to the expulsion of one of the country's most powerful lawmakers.

A Supreme Court decision earlier this month had already suspended Eduardo Cunha as speaker of the chamber of deputies, and now his colleagues are considering whether he should be kicked out of the body entirely.

Cunha is facing allegations of lying to congress by denying holding overseas bank accounts, an assertion he repeated at the hearing. He has been charged with corruption and obstruction of justice.

Swiss prosecutors contend that Cunha held secret accounts at the Julius Baer bank worth an estimated $5 million, funds that Brazilian investigators suspect are linked to a corruption scheme at state oil company Petrobras.

A political nemesis of President Dilma Rousseff, Cunha initiated a process that last week resulted in her impeachment and suspension from office for allegedly employing accounting tricks to hide deficits in the federal budget.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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