Brazil tourism minister implicated in corruption case resigns
Another Brazilian minister has resigned from the government of interim President Michel Temer, less than a month after assuming office, over fraud charges.
Tourism Minister Henrique Alves resigned on Thursday, becoming the third minister to leave the interim government since mid-May, when it took over from the government of Dilma Rousseff.
Alves announced his resignation after being named in a plea bargain testimony by Sergio Machado, a former chief executive at the state-run Petrobras oil company which is the subject of a probe into alleged massive corruption.
Machado told prosecutors that Alves and Temer had received 1.55 million reais ($450,000) for electoral campaigns. He said the payments were made legally but resulted from kickbacks owed by engineering companies.
While resigning, Alves dismissed the allegation and said that contributions to his campaign had been made through the official channels that had been declared to election authorities.
“I don’t want to create embarrassments or any difficulties for the government,” he said in his resignation letter to the interim president.
Temer also denied the allegation as reckless and dishonest, saying it was “irresponsible, ridiculous, mendacious and criminal” to claim that he had sought funds for his campaign from the graft scheme.
Temer took the reins last month after Rousseff was suspended as president for an impeachment trial. Then Rousseff’s vice-president, Temer joined her opponents in calling for an impeachment.
The impeachment bid against Rousseff was launched over allegations that she fiddled with government accounts in 2014 so she could increase public spending as a means of wooing voters for re-election.
Rousseff has condemned the impeachment drive as a coup, pledging to fight on during her trial.
The resignation of the tourism minister is now likely to boost Rousseff, who has been arguing all along the way that Temer and others calling for her impeachment are themselves corrupt.
Former Transparency Minister Fabiano Silveira and former Planning Minister Romero Juca previously resigned over alleged links to the Petrobras scandal.
The resignation of the tourism minister now comes less than two months before Brazil is to host the Olympics.