Tue, Dec 06, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Rousseff’s labor minister quits amid corruption scandal

Reuters, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

Brazilian minister of labor and employment Carlos Lupi resigned on Sunday in the face of mounting corruption allegations, the latest in a series of scandal-driven departures from Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s Cabinet.

Lupi announced his resignation in a statement on the Minister of Labor and Employment’s Web site.

“In the face of political and personal persecution in the media that I have been suffering for two months without the right of defense and without proof, and taking into consideration the report of the Ethics Commission of the Presidency — which has also condemned me in a summary fashion based on these same media reports without giving me a right to defend myself — I’ve decided to irrevocably resign my position,” the statement said.

Lupi decided to resign after meeting with Rousseff, a Brazilian minister said on condition that he not be named.

Lupi was to be replaced by Paulo Roberto dos Santos Pinto, the ministry’s executive secretary, starting yesterday, Rousseff said in a statement posted on the president’s official Web site.

Rousseff has lost six of her 32 ministers since taking office in January, five of those as a result of scandals involving alleged corruption. The departures have weakened her relations with coalition parties in the Brazilian Congress that she needs to pass an ambitious program of social legislation and infrastructure spending.

The president’s note thanked Lupi for his cooperation and work in her government and said she “expects him to continue contributing to the country.”

Most of the departing ministers were holdovers from the two-term government of her mentor and former Brazilian president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Pressure on Lupi, who has said “only a bullet” could remove him from office, reached a peak on Wednesday when the Public Ethics Committee of the Brazilian Presidency unanimously recommended he be fired for gross mismanagement.

The committee’s investigation, along with a probe in Congress, came after the news magazine Veja reported last month that Lupi aides allegedly demanded kickbacks from charities and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as a condition of receiving funding from the ministry.

Lupi also allegedly favored NGOs linked to his PDT Brazilian Workers’ Party and received free air travel aboard an airplane owned by the head of an NGO financed by the ministry. After he denied knowing the NGO head, TV news agencies showed video of the two men together at public events along with the plane.

The latest allegation is that Lupi received a salary as a federal congressional employee for six years while at the same time serving, and receiving a salary, as a representative in the state legislature of Rio de Janeiro the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reported on Sunday. Receiving two government salaries is illegal under a Brazilian law aimed at preventing so-called “double-dipping.”

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