Brazil’s speaker plays for time to dodge corruption probe

BRASILIA, (Reuters) – Brazilian lawmakers almost came to blows yesterday in a heated committee hearing that failed for a sixth time to decide whether to investigate lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha for lying about his bank accounts in Switzerland.
Tempers frayed when Cunha’s opponents on the committee called for a plenary vote in the lower house to remove Cunha as speaker, amid mounting frustration at what his critics say is his use of bureaucratic trickery to obstruct its hearings.
Cunha and his allies succeeded on Wednesday in ousting the committee’s rapporteur, who had recommended launching an investigation into the speaker. His replacement cannot now report to the committee before Tuesday, with only one week left before the Christmas recess.
Several lawmakers have turned to Brazil’s top prosecutor and the Supreme Court seeking an injunction to remove Cunha, who is an avowed foe of President Dilma Rousseff.
“As long as Cunha is speaker, he will use every tool, every trick, every possible maneuver in the rule book to stop the advance of the complaint against him in the ethics committee,” said Alessandro Molon, of the left-leaning Rede party.

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