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Resigned Brazil tourism minister ‘had Swiss bank account’ – prosecutor

Brazil former tourism minister Henrique Alves implicated in country’s Petrobras inquiry accused of tax evasion and money laundering

19 June 2016, 9:59am
Brazil’s former tourism minister Henrique Alves (right) was one of 20 politicians named in plea bargain testimony by a former Petrobras executive in relation to country’s biggest corruption scandal
Brazil’s former tourism minister Henrique Alves (right) was one of 20 politicians named in plea bargain testimony by a former Petrobras executive in relation to country’s biggest corruption scandal
 

Brazil’s former tourism minister Henrique Alves (right) was one of 20 politicians named in plea bargain testimony by a former Petrobras executive in relation to country’s biggest corruption scandal

Brazilian prosecutors have made a formal allegation of tax evasion and money laundering against former tourism minister Henrique Alves.

Brazil’s Attorney General Rodrigo Janot presented evidence to the Supreme Court saying that Alves had a secret bank account in Switzerland. Alves became the third cabinet member to leave Brazil’s interim president Michel Temer’s month-old administration after being forced to resign on Thursday over accusations of taking bribes.

Brazil's Attorney General Rodrigo Janot presented evidence to the Supreme Court saying that Mr Alves had a secret bank account in Switzerland.

Alves announced his resignation after a key witness accused him of accepting 1.5 million reals (around US$445,000) diverted from state oil company Petrobras.

Alves, a member of Temer's center-right PMDB party, said in an open letter he was stepping down to avoid “creating problems for the government.”

He joins former transparency minister Fabiano Silveira and former Planning Minister Romero Juca, who were both forced to resign over leaked phone recordings linked to the scandal.

Temer and Alves were among some 20 politicians named in the latest batch of allegations by Sergio Machado, the former chief executive of Petrobras subsidiary Transpetro who agreed to a plea-bargaining deal in exchange for his testimony on the inquiry.

While Temer dismissed the accusations as frivolous lies, the latest ministerial resignation underscored the risks that come with the sweeping Petrobras inquiry, which has thrown Brazil’s politics into chaos and deepened its worst recession in decades.

Sérgio Machado, a former senator from Temer’s party who ran the shipping arm of oil giant Petrobras for over a decade, was the latest in a string of politicians and executives who, when snagged by investigators, have flipped on friends and allies.

He told prosecutors that Alves, who served four decades as a congressman, had solicited 1.55m reais ($450,000) in campaign funds from the scheme. Machado said the contributions were made legally but resulted from kickbacks owed by engineering companies that received Petrobras contracts.

Alves denied the accusation and said late on Wednesday on Twitter that contributions to his campaigns had been made through official channels and declared to election authorities.

Current president Michel Temer took office on 12 May after the Senate voted to begin an impeachment trial against President Dilma Rousseff for breaking the law in the management of last year's budget.

She said the accusations were politically-motivated and described the impeachment proceedings against her as a coup.

 

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