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Scandal forces Brazil's anti-corruption minister to resign

May 31, 2016

Brazil's transparency chief has quit his post, after being accused of trying to derail an ongoing corruption probe before taking office. He is the second minister to resign in a week.

Brasilien Fabiano Augusto Martins Silveira
Image: Geraldo Magela/Agencia Senado

In a fresh blow to acting President Michel Temer's 16-day-old government, his anti-corruption minster resigned on Monday after leaked recordings showed him trying to squash a massive corruption scandal that has ensnarled the country's political and business elite.

Transparency Minister Fabiano Silveira (pictured) is the second minister in a week to be forced out of the new government, as a result of secret recordings about the investigation into corruption at state oil company Petrobras and the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.

In a report aired on Sunday, TV Globo played the recording in which Silveira gives legal advice to Senate chief Renan Calheiros, who is under investigation in the Petrobras scandal. The recording also shows Silveria criticizing the corruption investigation.

TV Globo also said Silveira had contacted prosecutors to learn what information they had on Calheiros, but was unsuccessful. The recordings were made at Calheiros' house before the Senate voted to start an impeachment trial against Rousseff earlier this month.

Earlier on Monday, Brazilian media reported Temer had decided to keep Silveira on, but later in the day the minister tendered his resignation. The day was marked by protests against Silveira at the Transparency Ministry, with staff blocking him from reaching the building and management threatening to resign if he did not step down.

Brazil's Petrobras Gets a New Chief

Temer under pressure

The recordings are likely to add to the view that the opposition is seeking to impeach Rousseff in part to stop the corruption investigations, including those into some of Temer's ministers. Rousseff, who is not under investigation, has repeatedly described the impeachment proceedings against her over accounting tricks as a politically motivated coup.

Temer's government is facing questions over its legitimacy.

Another leaked recording last week forced the resignation of planning minister Romero Juca, a close ally of Temer. That recording appeared to suggest a conspiracy to oust Rousseff and stop the corruption investigation, which has resulted in convictions, charges and investigations reaching all levels of government and business.

The recordings come from Sergio Machado, the former head of the transportation arm of Petrobras, who is also under investigation and has turned state's witness.

Brazilians demand reform with mops and brooms

cw/jr (AP, Reuters)