Brazil's Senate – whose president José Sarney, a former president of
the nation, has been accused of corruption -Â apparently has a secret
bank account operating millions of US dollars and a private "bunker"
for a few, with facilities for "intimate" dates, according to reports
in the São Paulo and BrasÀlia press.
A man of total trust of Sarney and other senators, and head of the administrative staff of the Upper House, Agaciel Maia, was who opened in 1997 the secret bank account which has operations totaling US$ 80 million that so far remain unaccounted for or how they were spent, revealed Brazil's largest daily Folha de S. Paulo.
The disclosure further complicates the situation of conservative Senator Sarney, a close ally of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and whose removal or resignation has been demanded by the opposition. The funds for the account, which remain unregistered for the Brazilian Government Spending Monitoring System, apparently originated in resources for the Senate staff.
Senator Sérgio Guerra from the opposition Brazilian Social Democrats said "the squandering of senate money is outrageous; nobody can understand why a staff of 10.000 is needed in the Upper House and the purpose of a US$ 1.3 billion annual budget".
Dozens of accusations have been made against Sarney who was president of Brazil from 1985 to 1990 and is now a vital ally of Lula in the Upper house.
"Sarney is a lame duck; he's lost all authority and legitimacy," said Arthur Virgílio head of the opposition Social Democrat Senators.
Two weeks ago Lula brushed aside the criticisms arguing that the attacks on Sarney by his peers in the senate were "a legislative issue". However last week he was forced to get personally involved and called Sarney to his office when he promised him the support of the Workers Party benches. This in spite the fact several senators wanted him to quit or suspended.
Apparently Lula argued that the senate coalition between the Workers Party and the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party of Sarney was essential to have legislation passed and to reach presidential elections of October 2010.
This weekend the magazine í‰poca published a report saying that the former manager of the Senate and close ally of Sarney, Agaciel Maia had ordered the construction of the "bunker" inside the Congress palace.
According to the article, the 130 square meters loft had computers, flat screen television sets, erotic literature and furniture suggesting it was used for "intimate dates".
Sarney has been president of the Senate three times since 1995 when he was first elected to the Upper House. In that time he and his close group, consolidated their political and administrative grip over the Senate, according to í‰poca.
Maciel who was administrative manager of the senate for 14 years was forced to resign last February when it was discovered he owned a mansion valued at US$ 2.5 million.