Brazil sports minister faces fresh allegations

RIO DE JANEIRO, (Reuters) – Brazilian media reported  more corruption allegations against the country’s embattled  sports minister today, raising the pressure on him to  quit a day after he received the backing of President Dilma  Rousseff.
Accusations that Silva took up to 40 million reais ($23  million) in kickbacks to benefit himself and his Communist  Party have embarrassed the government and risk complicating  Brazil’s already-troubled preparations for the 2014 soccer  World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
The Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper said today it had  seen documents showing that Silva’s wife received public money  from a nongovernmental organization controlled by members of  Silva’s Communist Party. It said the documents showed that the  NGO had contracted a firm owned by Silva’s wife and paid her  43,500 reais for research work.
Another newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo, reported an  evangelical pastor as saying he had been pressured by sports  ministry officials to pay a kickback of 10 percent to the  Communist Party on a public project to provide sports for needy  children. The pastor, David Castro, said the project had been  halted because he refused to pay the bribe.
Previous allegations against Silva have mostly come from a  disgruntled contractor arrested last year in an investigation  into allegedly illegal fund-raising by the Communist Party.
Silva, who has been sports minister since 2006 and is the  government’s point-man for coordinating investments and  infrastructure upgrades for the mega sporting events, has  vigorously proclaimed his innocence.
Silva met with Rousseff on Friday for more than an hour to  defend himself from the allegations. Rousseff said in a  statement that her government would not condemn anyone without  proof.
If Rousseff were to withdraw her support, Silva would  become the fifth minister to step down this year. Four of those  ministers have left over allegations of wrongdoing as the new  president takes a tough line against corruption and a shortage  of funds fuels rivalries within her unruly coalition.

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