Brazilian ex-speaker’s wife to be probed for graft

Brasilia, June 10 (IANS) The wife of Brazil’s former House Speaker Eduardo Cunha will be probed for alleged money laundering and capital flight.

Brazilian Federal Judge on Thursday accepted a case against Claudia Cruz after Swiss authorities last year uncovered a series of undeclared bank accounts with millions of dollars connected to Cunha, his wife and daughter, Xinhua reported.

The money is believed to have originated from hefty bribes Cunha took in the corruption scheme of Petrobras — Brazil’s state-owned oil company.

Funds embezzled from Petrobas, particularly from the purchase of a refinery in Pasadena, California, were used to pay bills with President Dilma Rousseff’s personal hair stylist Celso Kamura.

The case against Cruz was separated from that of her husband’s because she, unlike Cunha, is not a federal representative, and thus, does not have the right to sit in a special tribunal.

Prosecutors have been working to separate the cases in order to properly prosecute Cruz since last year, but Cunha had been reportedly using his influence to prevent it.

Cunha was suspended from his position of House Speaker because he was reportedly trying to interfere with the investigations of the House Ethics Committee on him, as well as trying to coerce other representatives.

Cruz is the sole beneficiary of at least one of the accounts. According to prosecutors, she was well aware of the illegal origin of the money and used it to pay for luxury trips and goods.

“The exorbitant expenses exceed the standard for any public servant, even a federal representative. Claudia Cruz’s credit card expenses of over $1 million over seven years are completely incompatible with Eduardo Cunha’s declared income,” prosecutors said.

The House Ethics Committee is expected to vote on Cunha’s expulsion from Congress next week.

–IANS

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