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Brazil’s Ex-speaker Should Feel the Full Weight of the Law, Says Transparency International

Eduardo Cunha gives a press conference - Lula Marques/AGPT Transparency International released a note welcoming the decision by the Brazilian House of Representatives to strip its former speaker, Eduardo Cunha, of his parliamentary mandate for misleading statements about his assets.

The organization is also calling for a full-scale investigation into the origins of these assets.

As Transparency reminds us, the House voted against Cunha because he was caught lying at an inquiry about holding bank accounts abroad. At least four accounts were later identified by Swiss prosecutors in the name of Cunha and his wife.

In his defense Cunha emphasized that he didn’t lie because “he’s not the owner, only the beneficiary” of the accounts.

Eduardo Cunha gives a press conference - Lula Marques/AGPT

“We now need to find out where the money came from in the accounts and let the judicial process take its course,” said José Ugaz, the chair of Transparency International.

“There should be no impunity for cases of grand corruption. Should Cunha be found guilty of having illicit funds, he should be brought to justice and answer fully before the law.”

Beneficial owners of companies and trusts can enjoy the benefits of property or equities even though legal title of the property belongs to another person or entity. Such lack of transparency is often used to hide corrupt assets.

Transparency International advocates for beneficial ownership transparency through the creation of national central public registries of companies and greater transparency around trusts. Such steps are critical in order to end impunity for grand corruption.

Brazil was among the weakest countries in the Transparency International’s assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of G20 countries beneficial ownership transparency frameworks.

The study was conducted in 2015 after the G20 made bold commitments in 2014 to end the secrecy that allows the corrupt to hide their identity and shift dirty cash anonymously.

To Transparency, grand corruption is the abuse of high-level power that benefits the few at the expense of the many, and causes serious and widespread harm to individuals and society. It often goes unpunished, they argue.

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