In a surprising move to the Brazilian government the Executive Committee on Public Ethics of Brazil, on a unanimous decision taken on Wednesday, November 30, recommended that president Dilma Rousseff dismiss her Labor Minister, Carlos Lupi.
“The Commission understood that the Minister had not explained the basis of the accusations which are several irregular contracts signed by people belonging to his party,” said Sepúlveda Pertence, spokesperson for the committee.
The recommendation does not target a specific motive for the exit of the minister, it refers to an article from the Ethics Code for top officials from the Brazilian federal administration which entitles the commission to extend a warning, a strong ethical reprimand or suggest his removal.
Lupi has been accused of a series of irregularities in contracts awarded by his ministry to entities linked to his own political party.
The Commission’s decision surprised even Lupi’s allies in the Senate. “It’s not fatal, but it’s a bullet”, said senator Romero Jucá recalling that during a congressional hearing the minister said that “to get me out of the ministry, only fallen with a bullet.”
Suspicions about Lupi’s wrongdoings surfaced following an early November article in Brazil’s largest circulation magazine Veja, which claimed that current officers and former staff from the Ministry were involved in a scheme to collect money from contracts which was re-routed to the party’s coffers, Labor Democratic Party, PDT.
Following the revelations Lupi sacked one of the staff mentioned in the magazine and said he would only leave the cabinet “fallen by a bullet”. President Rousseff did not like his statement for which Lupi later retracted and apologized sending an odd message to the president: “I love you.”
On its 12 November issue Veja revealed Lupi had flown in a private jet contracted by the owner of a network of NGO (non government organization) which has benefited from Labor ministry contracts valued at 10 million reais (about 5.2 million dollars).
Lupi first reaction was to say he did not know the businessman but later admitted having taken the flight but never said who paid for it.
Things became even more complicated following an interview published by daily Folha de S Paulo, November 26, exposing that Lupi had been a “ghost-staff” from the Lower House of Congress for almost six years. He enjoyed his condition of ‘best paid advisor’, with very few appearances at Congress from December 2000 to June 2006, when he was also chairing his PDT party.
If Lupi finally steps down, he would become the sixth member of President Rousseff’s cabinet who was forced to resign following strong allegations of corruption.