Brazil: Fresh Corruption Charges Bring Lula in Defense of His Finance Minister

Speaking to journalists Thursday night, March 16, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva stated that Minister of Finance, Antonio Palocci, has not resigned, is not going to resign and will remain in the government in spite of corruption accusations.

Palocci’s problems stem from the periods when he was mayor of Ribeirão Preto (1993-96 and 2000-2001). The Minister has once again been the target of a barrage of accusations of corruption during the Ribeirão Preto period.

This Thursday, a gardener at a house rented by a former aide to Palocci during the Ribeirão Preto period, Vladmir Poleto, said that the Minister had visited the house "ten or twenty times." The problem is that Palocci says he was never there.

The gardener also says he saw money being counted, divided up and distributed at the house by Poleto and other former Palocci aides. He added that Palocci arrived by himself, driving a car with darkened windows.

In a note, the Ministry of Finance says that Palocci does not drive alone in Brasí­lia and always uses a chauffeured car. It also reaffirms what the Minister has said in the past: that he was never at the house rented by Poleto.

However, the gardener turns out to be the second witness to have seen Palocci at the house rented by Poleto. The other witness is a chauffeur who worked for the Palocci administration back in Ribeirão Preto.

Agência Brasil

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