Carlos Lupi, Brazil’s minister of Labor is once again under a barrage of accusations from the São Paulo press, which could definitively make him the sixth toppled cabinet member in less than a year from the government of President Dilma Rousseff on charges of corruption.
Lupi, who has held the job since 2007 was accused by Folha de S, Paulo of having received a salary from the Lower House of Congress as a “ghost” advisor between the years 2000 and 2006, during which time he was almost exclusively involved in performing duties as co-chair of the Labor Democratic Party.
Based on claims from former staff, deputies and former members of Congress during those years Lupi was paid the highest ‘advisor’ salary without spending much time in Brasilia. Documents to that effect were published in the press.
Through his spokesperson Lupi admitted having acted as an ‘advisor’ on certain periods of time but insists “he never committed an illegality’, published Folha.
Veja, the magazine with the highest circulation in Brazil also has the testimony of a mechanical worker from São Paulo who alleges an aide of Minister Lupi attempted to collect money for making legal a trade union back in 2008.
“They asked for a million reais (US$ 529.000) so we could register the union we wanted to start”, said Irma Batista. “We know several unions were blackmailed but they are scared of coming up front”.
According to Veja the Brazilian government was warned about the case by union members from the ruling Workers Party nine months ago, “but did nothing”.
Lupi’s problems took off at the beginning of November when Veja published an article linking one of his aides, now suspended, to alleged corruption payments to organizations that subscribed contracts with the Labor ministry.
Lupi was later accused of creating “ghost” unions and having traveled extensively on the private jet of a businessperson whose company has dealings and contracts with the government.
The minister has denied vehemently all claims of corruption inside his ministry, while President Rousseff has yet to take a decision on the issue and Lupi’s continuity in the cabinet. The president has said she would wait for the results of two parallel investigations: judicial and administrative.
Since last June Rousseff has lost four ministers on corruption allegations and a fifth for public statements referred to his colleagues in the media.